Patrick Richardson

Managing Editor

A wreck nearly cost the life of a 5-year old Columbus boy Friday.

At about 5:40 p.m. Friday Denise Helwig, 35, was traveling south on North West 5th when she said another driver ran the stop sign at the intersection of Bethlehem and 5th and slammed into the side of her 2001 Hyundai. The other vehicle was a Jeep Cherokee driven by Carl Cole of Scammon. Cole was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

According to Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves, law enforcement is waiting on the results of a urinalysis before preferring charges.

Contrary to reports in another outlet, Helwig did not have a stop sign.

Helwig's 5-year old son Colton was taken to Freeman Medical Center in Joplin.

"I thought he was dead when we first landed," Helwig said. "He wasn't breathing and was gurgling blood."

Helwig said several passersby stopped including a nurse who cleared Colton's airway.

Colton suffered severe injuries to his face and Helwig said he spent three hours in surgery to have his face repaired.

Helwig's other son Austin, 7, was not injured.

Cole was taken to the Cherokee County Jail where he was released on $1,000 bond.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, Columbus Fire Department and Cherokee County EMS all responded to the wreck.