Many teenagers and young adults in the Seymour community are mourning last week’s death of 17-year-old Zane D. Hadden, a former Seymour High School student who tragically died early Friday morning in an automobile accident on Oak Lawn Road, about two miles east of Seymour.
Seymour Police Chief Steven Pogue said Hadden was a popular peer to many.
“Zane was a well-liked kid, no doubt about it,” he said.
“He spent a lot of time on the Seymour square with many of his friends, and the common description you heard about Zane is that he was very likable.”
Early Friday morning, around 1 a.m., Tyler Smith, a patrolman for the Seymour Police Department, observed Hadden’s truck failing to maintain its lane at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Loveland Street after exiting the Signal Food Store.
Smith activated his emergency equipment, then followed Hadden to Oak Lawn Road at the end of Seymour’s city limits, where the pursuit was ended “due to the dangerous nature of the road surface and visibility,” per Smith’s official report.
“This is a policy that I put in place,” Pogue explained.
“When these pursuits leave our city limits, safety is a key consideration, both for my officers and for the people we’re pursuing.”
Smith’s report noted that a short time later, Deputy Austin Rice of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department reported that while in the area east of town looking for Hadden’s truck, he located a vehicle that matched its description and made contact with Smith.
At that point, Smith met Rice, then followed the deputy on Oak Lawn Road until they came across a fire.
“I observed the vehicle involved in the (earlier) pursuit to be engulfed in flames,” Smith wrote in his report. “I immediately contacted the Webster County dispatch and informed them and had them contact the fire department and medical staff. Firefighters arrived on the scene and began putting out the fire.”
Once the fire was extinguished, Smith said he was told that the truck’s driver was still inside the vehicle and wasn’t alive. Smith said he then contacted the coroner and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Smith said the official accident report was handled by the patrol, although Hadden’s identity wasn’t known at the time.
“Once I cleared the (accident) scene, I went to the Signal and Highway C and collected video footage of the driver,” Smith wrote in his report. “I was able to identify the driver as Zane Hadden.”
His report continued that he and the patrol trooper went to Hadden’s father’s home and notified him of the accident.
Soon thereafter, the three men went to Yates Boys Towing in Seymour, where Hadden’s father was able to confirm that the vehicle involved in the accident was his son’s.
“I credit Tyler (Smith) for going to the family home with the patrol to speak to Zane’s father,” Pogue noted.
“Tyler didn’t have to do that, but he wanted to be present. He took the passing of this young man hard. Although Tyler was involved in a brief pursuit, my officers also establish relationships with these young people in Seymour and sure don’t want to see harm come to them.”
Sgt. J.D. Fugett of the patrol wrote in his radio report that Hadden, driving a southbound 2002 Chevrolet truck, “failed to negotiate a curve, traveled off the roadway, struck a fence and a large tree. (The truck) became engulfed (in flames) and burnt.”
Fugett said Hadden was pronounced dead at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning by Webster County Coroner Michael Taylor.
His report concluded that Hadden wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred.
His body was taken to the Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home of Seymour.
Pogue said he knows there are many teenagers in Seymour who are struggling with Hadden’s death.
“It’s something we’re currently working with our school on,” he said. “The school’s resource officer, Ray Rodriguez, is one of my officers, and we see the need to be there for the students and so does the school.
“Often, there is an opportunity to teach after a tragedy, and this may be one of those moments. I just wish that Zane would have pulled over for Tyler before he left Seymour’s city limits.”
Hadden’s funeral service begins at 11 a.m. this Saturday at the Seymour Life Church, located at the city’s north edge off Skyline Road.