Three die statewide in traffic accidents on Fourth of July holiday weekend, none in Southwest Mississippi

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Mississippi Highway Patrol responded to 17 collisions in Troop M — Lincoln, Lawrence, Pike, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Amite and Wilkinson counties — over the July 4 holiday weekend, though none were fatal.

Three people died in wrecks across the state during the holiday, which for MHP started at 6 p.m. Friday and ended at midnight Tuesday.

Capt. Johnny Poulos with MHP said that on Sunday night, 56-year-old Wilbert Demus of Bentonia was driving south on Hwy. 433 in Yazoo County when his 2001 Chevolet car left the road and hit a utility pole. Demus died before he could be taken to a hospital.

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On Monday morning, 53-year-old Michael Watson of Amory was traveling west on Hwy. 8 in Monroe County when his 2014 GMC pickup truck left the road and hit a tree. Watson died at the scene.

Tuesday evening, 33-year-old William Few of Grenada died when his 1998 BMW left I-55 southbound in Grenada County, crossed into the median, and rolled over multiple times. Few died at the scene.

Troopers say 48 people were injured on highways from Friday evening through Tuesday.

Of those, 11 were in Troop M, said Cpl. Brandon Fortenberry

From Friday through Tuesday, MHP reported that troopers in Troop M issued citations for five DUIs, 20 seatbelt violations and five child-restraint violations. They made two drug-related arrests, but saw no felony arrests. No one within Troop M was cited for public drunk, he said.

Of the 17 collisions investigated, none were alcohol related. Seven of those wrecks occurred on the Independence Day holiday.

Statewide, MHP issued 5,618 citations with 100 DUI arrests. A total of 183 crashes were investigated including the three fatalities and 48 injuries on state, federal highways and interstate systems, Poulos said.

“MHP saw a huge reduction in seatbelt citations throughout the period with 199 being issued,” he said.

That’s down from 444 seatbelt citations issued a year ago.

“We attribute this to responsible decisions by motorists regarding the new seatbelt law and the MHP ‘In the Click’ safety campaign,” he said.

The number of fatalities over the holiday was also reduced, from six to three.

All available troopers were utilized statewide during the period conducting saturation patrols and safety checkpoints, he said.