Weekend wreck damages Confederate statue on Ole Miss campus, driver identified by UPD

Published 10:03 am Monday, September 18, 2017

The Confederate statue on the Ole Miss campus sustained damage on Saturday as an intoxicated driver ran into the base.

At approximately 10:38 p.m. on Sept. 16, reports began appearing on Twitter about a wreck on campus near the statue.

University Police confirmed the reports via a tweet, stating that the driver and the passenger in the vehicle had both been transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital –North Mississippi to be treated for injuries.

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The driver, Coty Pierce Lewis, was intoxicated at the time of the accident and has with Driving Under the Influence, no driver’s license, no proof of liability insurance, and an expired tag, UPD said in a press release.

“The driver is not a student,” University Police Chief Tim Potts told the EAGLE on Sunday.

UPD gave no additional information on the passenger and would not confirm the name of the driver as charges are pending.

The Confederate statue on University Circle sustained damage to the base during the wreck, requiring the contextualization plaque placed near the statue in  2016 to be removed for repairs.

“The base of the statue and the brass plaque in front of the statue sustained damage. The damaged pieces are being stored by the Facilities Management Department during the investigation,” Jonathan Scott, Ole Miss Director of Public Relations, said.

A review from a structural engineer will be needed to determine the extent of the damage, including if there is any damage to the structural integrity of the statue, Scott said.

For the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors, the statue will remain barricaded for the immediate future, Scott said.

While social media speculation stated that the wreck might have been a political statement in regards to various Confederate statues being removed around the country, the investigation is going in a different direction, UPD said.

“At this time, there is nothing that indicates it was intentional,” Potts said.

UPD stated via Twitter that the department would consult with the FBI and the District Attorney’s office to determine if any other charges should be filed in relation to the wreck.

The investigation is ongoing.