2017 starts off deadly on state highways

Published 10:57 am Monday, January 2, 2017

Oxford police officers arrested seven people for driving while under the influence over the New Year’s holiday, which is a slight increase from last year when officers made four DUI arrests.

“We had a relatively quiet weekend,” said Maj. Jeff McCutchen this morning. “We worked a few wrecks, no serious injuries and answered several calls for fireworks (being shot off in the city limits).”

During Mississippi Highway Patrol’s New Year’s holiday enforcement period, which began at 6 p.m. on Saturday and ended at midnight on Sunday, MHP issued 1,276 citations and made 44 DUI arrests. They also investigated 94 wrecks, which included 24 injuries and four fatalities on state and federal highways.

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Two fatal wrecks

There were two wrecks that resulted in the deaths of four people; however, according to the MHP, alcohol was not a cause of either wreck.

“Due to inclement weather experienced over the weekend, MHP investigated a high number of traffic crashes throughout the short but deadly holiday period,” said MHP spokesman Capt. Johnny Poulos.

The two fatal wrecks occurred in Jefferson Davis County and Jasper County.  Both happened Sunday afternoon.

According to MHP, at about 1:24 p.m.  a 2011 Nissan Murano driven by Jerry B. Harper, 75, of Brookhaven was traveling eastbound on U.S. 84. A 2006 Ford Taurus driven by Harney H. Walker, 27, of Newhebron, attempted to cross U.S. 84 in order to reach R.G. Rogers Road.

The Nissan Murano collided with the right passenger side of the Ford Taurus. Walker and Luna Harper, 74, a passenger in the Nissan Murano, were both pronounced dead at the scene. Linda Evans, 74, a passenger in the Nissan Murano, was transported to a local hospital where she died due to injuries sustained in the crash.

At approximately 3:18 p.m., a 2008 Honda Civic driven by Nelson Sorto, 31, of Lilburn, Georgia, was traveling southbound on Interstate 59 when the vehicle left the roadway and collided with a tree. Right front passenger Bayron A. Gomez, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both Crashes remain under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Last year, MHP investigated 79 wrecks. There were no fatalities reported on Mississippi highways during the 2015-2016 New Year’s holiday.

In Troop E, which covers several counties including Lafayette County, troopers made seven arrests for DUI and investigated six wrecks, with four having alcohol as a factor, which resulted in one major injury.