Missouri taxi driver gets 5 years for fatal 2014 crash

Pictured is the scene of the July 2014 crash in Columbia which resulted in the death of Brian Baker. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Pictured is the scene of the July 2014 crash in Columbia which resulted in the death of Brian Baker. (Corey Saathoff photo)

A taxi driver from Missouri who was traveling in the wrong direction while drunk when his cab was involved in a July 2014 crash that resulted in the death of a Columbia man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

With his guilty conviction in Monroe County Circuit Court for felony aggravated DUI, Adam L. Wagner, 27, of St. Charles, Mo., will serve a five-year prison term that runs concurrent with recent sentences imposed in St. Charles and St. Francois counties in Missouri.

Charges of reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving were dismissed as part of sentencing.

At about 7:30 a.m. on July 19, 2014, Wagner operated a 2000 white and green Lincoln taxi cab in a southward direction along and upon the northbound lanes of Route 3 at South Main Street in Columbia while under the influence of alcohol, according to court information, when his car collided with a 2010 Toyota Prius driven by Brian Baker, 62, of Columbia, which was turning left from South Main onto Route 3 southbound.

Baker was airlifted by ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter to Saint Louis University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the crash. He later died at the hospital.

Brian Baker

Brian Baker

The crash led to a secondary collision at the intersection involving a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Chelsea Wegener, 24, of Marissa, and a 2013 Ford F150 driven by Jessica Villarreal, 45, of Shiloh. Wegener was transported by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Medical Center for minor injuries. Villarreal was not injured.

Baker was on his way to an elders meeting at Hope Christian Church when the crash occurred, said his wife, JoAnn.

“He was the love of my life,” she said.

In addition to serving as a church elder, Baker was a Life Group Bible Study leader and had also taught classes at Hope Christian Church. He worked as a physical therapist at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

“He loved his family, his church family, and this community,” JoAnn said of her husband. “He was just a very laid-back guy who was unassuming about things.”

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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