Women honored for helping save baby involved in fatal crash

A month after a fatal crash authorities honored two women who rescued a baby from the wreckage.

The accident happened on February 6 at Fir Road and County Road 175 in Jasper County. Two people died when a pickup and car collided head-on. Even now debris from the cars remains at the crash site. A blowing flag and bouquet of flowers have been placed in honor of two lives lost.

They were Brandon Stucky, an Ozark Christian College student from Illinois, and Julie Cartwright of Joplin.

The only survivor was Cartwright’s young grandson, Haven, who was strapped in a car seat. Two women who happened upon the scene that night rushed in to rescue that baby. The women also credit a FedEx man who helped in the rescue of the baby who survived with just a scratch.

On Tuesday night the Carthage Fire Department honored the two women – Keona Johnson and Leanne McAtee.

Leanne was driving home from church. Keona was heading home from work. Both realized how close they were to the accident.

“I saw what I thought was smoke, all of sudden – just appeared – I was just in shock when I was driving,” says Leanne. “Internally I just keep praying and talking to Haven telling him ‘it’s going to be ok. It’s going to be ok.'”

“I just wanted to help whoever I could,” says Keona. “On the phone with 911 the whole time expressing how bad everything was, and there was little Haven in his car seat crying and he appeared to be ok.”

Because of their bravery and act of kindness the Carthage Fire Department presented both with citizen awards.

“It’s very unexpected,” says Keona. “I think everyone’s been very kind. I don’t think I’ve done anything special, I didn’t think twice about stopping or not stopping. I just did it and I felt that was the right thing to do and I hope anyone would of done the same thing.”

“I don’t feel like I did anything to deserve to be honored,” says Leanne. “I guess I feel like I did what God wanted me to do.”

Both women say the memories are hard to digest, but the miracle of Haven still being alive gives them strength to move forward.