9-year-old driver after deadly crash: Man showing me how to drive 100 mph

Man charged with manslaughter after teen killed in crash involving 9-year-old driver
Published: Sep. 7, 2015 at 2:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2015 at 4:27 PM CDT
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Mitchell Morris (Source: Doniphan Police Department)
Mitchell Morris (Source: Doniphan Police Department)

OXLY, MO (KFVS) - An O'Fallon, Mo. man is charged with involuntary manslaughter after a 14-year-old boy died in a crash with a 9-year-old behind the wheel.

The 9-year-old told police the man had vodka and was teaching him how to drive 100 miles per hour.

Mitchell Morris, 37, is charged with involuntary manslaughter (first degree) and endangering the welfare of a child (first degree).

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports that Damian A. Winters, 14, of Oxly, Mo. died after the vehicle he was riding in ran off the road and overturned around 3:50 p.m. on Sept. 6.

It happened on County Road T3 about one mile north of Oxly.

Winters' 9-year-old step-brother was behind the wheel of a 2000 Ford Expedition when it hit an embankment and overturned, ejecting everyone inside.

Winters was pronounced dead at the scene.

Morris went to a Doniphan hospital with moderate injuries. He was later arrested and charged.

The 9-year-old boy had minor to no injuries.

No one in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt, according to the MSHP.

The boy told a state trooper, "Mitch was driving and had a vodka bottle between his legs. Mitch told me he was smarter and going to show me how to drive 100 miles per hour."

The state trooper found Morris covered in blood with several cuts on his legs and face. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot, according to the probable cause statement. The trooper conducted a field sobriety test and arrested him.

Morris reportedly told police, "I was trying to teach the boy how to drive, I was not driving the vehicle."

The boy also told police, "Mitch made me drive, it was my first time to drive, he told me to floor it, I hit the gas but tried to brake. I woke up on the ground and ran back to the house for help. I went back and broke out a window to get my brother out but I couldn't. [redacted] was sitting behind me in the truck."

It is not clear what Morris' relationship is to the two.

Some residents in the community can't believe a 9-year-old was behind the wheel.

"I feel like the man should be charged for letting a nine year old drive a car. A nine year old shouldn't be driving a car," Samantha Barton.

Christopher Burk agrees with her, saying there was no excuse for this to happen.

"I just don't think it should have been right for that nine year old to be driving, period," Burk said. "Who drives at 9 years old? Only on the farm lands is when you need to, on your mom and dad's lap, you don't need to be driving on the main highways."

Morris was due in court on Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. at the Ripley County Courthouse.

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