MU student, 19, dies in car wreck in rain on Interstate 70

Katie L. Odle served as a community adviser.
Tuesday, November 4, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:38 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Michael Clements will miss his friend Katie Odle at Shakespeare’s for Monday afternoon pizza.

This Monday, he sat at a table with friends Sammy Miles, Stephanie Arage, Chris Berg and Sheena Martin between classes, sipping a soda, sharing a pizza and talking about her.

Katherine L. Odle, 19, of Vestavia Hills, Ala., was killed in a car accident Saturday morning on her way to a staff retreat in St. Louis. She was an MU community adviser in Hillcrest Hall, a building on the Stephens College campus being rented to MU for the semester.

Elizabeth Detwiler, 21, another Hillcrest community adviser, was the front-seat passenger in Ms. Odle’s Toyota Camry. She is in serious condition at St. Joseph Hospital West with injuries to her jaw and pelvis. She does not yet know that Ms. Odle was killed when the car slipped off Interstate 70 in the pouring rain, crossed the median and collided with a Mazda 626. That vehicle’s passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries. Both cars were totaled, according to the police report filed at the scene.

Jeffrey Clemens, 19, suffered minor injuries as Ms. Odle’s backseat passenger. He is at home with his parents in Chillicothe and doesn’t know how the accident happened, according to Angie Jacobs, Hillcrest’s area coordinator.

As a community adviser, Ms. Odle looked after the well-being of 40 residents at Hillcrest. Part of her job was to find them rooms at MU, since MU is trying to move the residents onto the main campus. She had three residents left as of Saturday.

“She was either in my room or I was in her room,” said Michael Clements, a 27-year-old biology major and Hillcrest resident. “She would always come by and ask me, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ ”

Most recently, Ms. Odle and Clements discussed their grandfathers. One of her grandfathers died three weeks ago, and one of Clements’ grandfathers died last week.

Jacobs attested to Ms. Odle’s friendliness.

“She didn’t just say hi; you had to have a hug,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs needed one as she read the farewell messages written on Ms. Odle’s door.

“I miss you, sweetie. Keep an eye on me. I love ya. Mike,” says one. “We love you always!” another message reads.

Jacobs plans to find a way to make those messages stay on the board permanently so she can send it to Odle’s parents, Jack and Sheryl Odle.

Sheryl Odle described her daughter as a close friend.

“She’s just a good friend, in addition to being a loving daughter and a wonderful person,” she said.

Unselfishness was one of her strongest qualities.

“She put her family and friends first before her individual desires,” Sheryl Odle said. She loved her 12-year-old brother John.

Ms. Odle was focused.

“She had a lot of goals,” said Chris Berg, a 20-year-old sophomore journalism major who lives in Hatch Hall at MU. Ms. Odle, who lived in Hatch last year, often hung out with friends in Berg’s room.

Odle was a journalism major. Her father, Jack Odle, is editor of Progressive Farmer and former president of the American Agricultural Editor’s Association.

“She had an unusual curiosity for everything,” Sheryl Odle said. “She was just really multifaceted.”

Danielle Stampley, Katie Odle’s immediate supervisor and Hillcrest’s hall coordinator, remembers Ms. Odle for her friendliness.

“Katie’s just one of the most positive people I’ve ever met,” Stampley said.

Ms. Odle could walk up to anyone and start a conversation with them, her close friends said.

“The reality is that you spend five minutes with her and you know her really well,” Jacobs said.

Some of Ms. Odle’s close friends are making the drive to her funeral Thursday in Alabama. Her friends will also attend Friday’s burial in Kansas in a small cemetery close to her grandparents’ home.

A memorial service will be in Columbia some time next week. Plans are still being made.

If you knew Katie Odle, her mother would like to hear your remembrances of her. You can e-mail Sheryl Odle at

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