High-speed pursuit ends in fatal wreck

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Charges are pending against a Bogue Chitto man whose passengerwas killed as they were fleeing from a Lincoln County deputy Mondaynight, Mississippi Highway Patrol authorities said.

Harry J. Whittington, 48, of Liberty, died after a 1996 GMCSierra pickup truck, driven by Russell L. Hart Jr., left Big CreekDrive and struck a tree during a pursuit that ended shortly before9 p.m. Monday, said Staff Sgt. Rod Crawford, public affairs officerfor MHP’s District Nine.

“This will be an alcohol-related fatal crash,” Crawfordsaid.

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Crawford said the pursuit began when Lincoln County Sheriff’sDeputy Johnny Hall Jr. observed Hart’s vehicle near theintersection of Highway 51 and Brister Street at Bogue Chitto.Crawford said Hall thought the vehicle was speeding and attemptedto make a stop.

The truck fled and turned onto Mount Pleasant Road. It thenturned onto Holmesville Road before again turning onto Big CreekRoad, where the accident happened at 8:54 p.m.

After going off the road to the left then over-correcting,Crawford said, the truck left the road and hit the tree. TheBrookhaven Fire Department’s Jaws of Life were needed to freeWhittington from the vehicle, fire officials said.

“He was pronounced dead at the scene by me at 9:50 p.m.,” saidLincoln County Coroner Medical Examiner Clay McMorris.

Hart, 44, of Bogue Chitto, was taken to King’s Daughters MedicalCenter. He later was transferred to the University of MississippiMedical Center, where information on his condition was unavailablethis morning.

Crawford said speeds during the brief pursuit reached in excessof 100 miles per hour.

While sheriff’s department patrol cars are not permitted to useradar, Crawford said there are other ways for officers to gaugespeeding.

“It doesn’t require radar to form an opinion that a vehicle istraveling in excess of posted speed limit,” said Crawford, addingthat a patrol car may “pace” a suspected radar by using the patrolcar’s calibrated speedometer.

Sheriff Wiley Calcote confirmed that his department was involvedin the pursuit. However, the sheriff directed requests forinformation to the MHP, which investigated the accident.

Crawford said the district attorney’s office had been notifiedregarding the accident and that charged were expected to be filedthis morning against Hart. Those charges will be determined by theDA’s office and the sheriff’s office, the trooper said.

Information on funeral services for Whittington was notknown.