Fenton man killed after tree falls onto car while traveling on highway


GLOVER, Mo. – A tree falling onto a car killed a Fenton man. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has shared condolences for retired deputy Kirk Ainley. He was 64-years-old.

Ainley was traveling with his wife southbound on Highway 21, about three miles west of Glover. Right as they came around a downhill curve, a large pine fell across the highway and onto the vehicle around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

His wife was driving and sustained minor injuries in the accident.

“The tree fell into the (front) passengers compartment of the vehicle and killed the passenger,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Clark Parrott said.  

“Everything to us is a traffic ‘crash.’ If there was ever a traffic ‘accident,’ this would be it … To be driving along and have a tree fall on you. Our thoughts are with his family, the other occupant, and everybody involved. This is something you can’t anticipate.” 

The Iron County Coroner pronounced him deceased at around 7 p.m.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department shared this Facebook status update today:

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Retired Deputy Kirk Ainley. Dep. Ainley served our department from Sept. 15, 1987, until his retirement May 22, 2012. Dep. Ainley died in a vehicle crash last night. R.I.P. Deputy.

Friends, family, and coworkers looked to him as a guardian angel.  

Ainley’s children told Fox 2 he retired from a security job at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton in the Spring. He had served in the Army before serving as a Jefferson County deputy for 25 years, retiring in 2012. He was also a reservist in the Air National Guard during that time.   

His former co-workers are heartbroken.     

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital President, Tina Garrison, recalled when Ainley checked on her when she had fallen on stairs.   

“He looked at me as a security officer talking to the president of the hospital and said, ‘Now you don’t have to be a tough young lady. You tell me if you’re hurt.’ That was really who Kirk was,” she said.

“He took care of everybody, including me. He really loved our patients, obviously, but he really loved our staff. He was one of the guys that when the staff saw him … they loved talking to him.  

“When he was on patrol in the parking lot, he would give them rides to their cars and really took that seriously. It certainly is a big loss to the family of St. Clare because he is still well-loved.” 

There were thunderstorms in the area at the time of the accident, but there was no word as of Wednesday on what role weather played, if any, in bringing down that tree.  

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