HOW IN THE WORLD DID THAT HAPPEN? Man who flipped car onto parked vehicle on Gainesville square arrested for DWI with drugs


Times photo/Regina Mozingo Auden Vaneperen, a 20-year-old Gainesville man pictured standing on the courthouse lawn in this photo, was driving the upside down 2021 Toyota Camry when he flipped it onto a parked 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, owned by Cindy Thomas, who works in the Ozark County Collector’s office.

Times photo/Jessi Dreckman Members with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department and other emergency agencies responded to the Gainesville square last Wednesday, March 6, after several calls were made to the 911 dispatch office reporting that a car had flipped onto another parked vehicle on the south side of the square.

This Toyota Tacoma truck was extensively damaged after a Toyota Camry smashed into the back of it last week, causing the front of the truck to slam into the concrete wall at the front of the parking space - resulting in both front and rear end damage. In addition to the Camry and Tundra, a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was also extensively damaged after the Camry came to rest upside down on top of it.

It was around 4:15 p.m. last Wednesday, March 6, just as business on the Gainesville square was wrapping up for the day that a thundering sound brought dozens of people to their office doors - and then running outside to help with the terrifying scene they found before them.  

A white 2021 Toyota Camry had somehow flipped and come to rest upon a parked 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. The Camry’s roof was smashed into the ground, and the back windshield had shattered, covering the asphalt in broken glass and vehicle parts.

In an effort to help those inside the vehicle, several people ran to the driver’s side of the car where a young child was passed out the window, followed by a pregnant woman who climbed out with blood dripping down her face and soaking the knees of her jeans. Some of those helping the family in the car recognized the woman, and knowing that she has other children, asked where they were. She assured them that her other children were with a family member and not in the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle, 20-year-old Auden Vaneperen, also made his way out of the upside down car, standing on the courthouse lawn with his hands on his head, crying at the scene he found before him. 

Soon, emergency workers with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, Ozark County Ambulance and the Gainesville Volunteer Fire Department were on scene, both helping the crash victims and helping to direct traffic through the area during the busy travel time when many businesses and offices had closed for the day and workers were making their way home. Soon after, Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Kyle L. Hogan arrived on scene ready to head up the crash investigation. 

Vaneperen was escorted into an ambulance where emergency personnel with the Ozark County Ambulance tended to his injuries. Trooper Hogan also entered the ambulance, likely speaking with Vaneperen about what had happened that lead to the crash. 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s online crash report shows that Vaneperen was transported to Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains with injuries described as “moderate,” and he was released later that day. The woman and child who were in his vehicle are not listed on the injury report, meaning they presumably were uninjured or did not sustain injuries extensive enough for transport to the hospital. 

Several people snapped photos of the bizarre crash scene, and a few posted those photos to Facebook later that evening. Upon seeing the upside down Camry on top of the Equinoix, many people had the same initial question - How in the world did that happen?

The MSHP crash report gives some insight, showing that Vaneperen was traveling southbound. Those who witnessed the crash say that he was driving at a high rate of speed and slightly lost control, causing the racing car to drive straight toward the front panel glass windows of Bumper to Bumper and the American Family Insurance Agency where an employee and her children were standing in the lobby at the time, watching the incident unfold.

In an attempt to keep from driving the car into the buildings or cars parked in front of them, Vaneperen apparently grabbed the wheel and pulled hard, over-correcting and making an extremely tight left hand turn. While still traveling at a significant speed, he smashed into a parked 2019 Toyota Tacoma, owned by Scott McKinzie, an employee of the Ozark County Assessor’s Office who was working in the courthouse at the time of the crash. 

When the Camry hit the parked truck, the centrifugal force caused by the tight turn made at such a high rate of speed caused the car to flip into the air and upside down, coming to rest on the car parked next to the Toyota truck, a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox owned by Cindy Thomas, an employee of the Ozark County Collector’s office, who was also working in the courthouse at the time of the incident.

The report shows that Vaneperen was not wearing a seatbelt. Details on whether the child was secured in a proper child safety seat or if the woman who was riding as a passenger was wearing her seatbelt were not included in the online MSHP crash report. 

Vaneperen was arrested for driving while intoxicated with drugs and not wearing a seatbelt in connection with the crash, according to a preliminary MSHP online arrest report. The formal probable cause statement and complaint has not yet been filed by the prosecutor but are likely pending. When those documents are filed, more information about the arrest may be made available. 

The crash is not Vaneperen’s first run in with law enforcement involving drugs or reckless driving, according to his criminal record. In unrelated open criminal cases, Vaneperen is currently facing the felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after an officer reportedly watched him sell methamphetamine to a confidential informant. 

In another open case, he’s charged with tampering with a motor vehicle for allegedly taking a motorcycle that wasn’t his last summer.

In his most recently filed case, Vaneperen was ticketed Feb. 10 for driving 80 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. The ticket was written by Trooper Hogan.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423