KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A father, three of his children and his girlfriend died in a crash while heading to buy fireworks in a small western Missouri town, authorities said.
Jason Rittermeyer and his family had planned a Fourth of July celebration near Archie in rural Cass County, about 45 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Andy Bell said. They already had some fireworks but decided to add to their supply after learning more children would be coming to the party.
Their westbound car went off a road Thursday afternoon just east of Archie and skidded sideways before being struck by a pickup truck that was traveling the opposite direction, the patrol said.
Rittermeyer, 32, of rural Archie, was killed along with his girlfriend, Aleah Lucas, 22, of Olathe, Kan., and three of his children: Noah Rittermeyer, 10, Sage Rittermeyer, 9, and Anna Rittermeyer, 8.
The truck's driver sustained minor injuries.
"I've ! worked a lot of fatality crashes. This one is the worst I've ever investigated," Bell said. "With the children involved, it's tough."
Jennie Whiteside, who knew the Rittermeyers from Boy Scouts, described the family as "awesome."
"They were good, wholesome farm kids. The dad had a ranch, and they all did farm work," said Whiteside, a scoutmaster for a troop that included Noah and older brother Jonas. Their father also helped with the group.
Whiteside said Noah had just moved up from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and spent 10 days at scout camp. Jonas, who stayed home when the family went for more fireworks, is the youth head of the troop.
"Jason, the dad, helped with the boys and went on all the campouts with them," Whiteside said. "Aleah, the girlfriend, was at all the events and supported them. She was amazing. I loved her. She loved the boys. She loved the whole family and did everything with them."
Jonas is with his mother, who lives in the area! , Whiteside said. Some fellow scouts are helping care for the family's animals, she said.
"We are pretty shook up around here," Whiteside said.