Victim disappears from accident near Gerald

Around 3 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, Gerald police officer Russell Tiestort responded to a one-vehicle accident just east of the Gerald city limits. As he arrived on scene, Tiesort found a wrecked 2016 Mazda on the north side of the highway, objects strewn along the roadway and a small amount of blood in the center of the highway. 

Witnesses who lived nearby said they came out when they heard a crash and found a man lying in the middle of the highway. A white car soon came from the direction of Gerald, stopped, picked up the man and left. 

The witnesses had noted the license plate number of the white car. 

Trooper R. LeClaire, with Troop C of the Missouri State Highway Patrol noted in his report of the accident, that a 2016 Mazda, driven by Muath A. Salem, 27, of St. Louis, had been traveling westbound when the driver fell asleep. 

Salem traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck a mailbox before the car overturned, ejecting the driver.

Further investigation found the white car was registered to an address just north of Gerald. 

When contacted, a man at that address confirmed that the white car belonged to a man who was staying with him. He believed the man was en route to Gerald that evening and that Salem, a mutual friend, had been following him to his house. 

The driver of the white car was eventually contacted and told LeClaire that he was taking his friend to a hospital in Rolla, the only one they were aware of in the area. 

Rolla police were asked to go to the hospital to interview Salem. 

The Mazda received extensive damage in the crash and was towed by Patriot Towing. 

Salem, who was not wearing a seat belt, suffered moderate injuries.