MHP Fourth Enforcement sees 4 deaths, none in Lincoln and surrounding counties

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Mississippi Highway Patrol Independence Day Travel Enforcement Period concluded Tuesday night with four fatal collisions statewide, none in the Troop M area.

MHP Troop M, based in Brookhaven, covers nine counties — Lincoln, Lawrence, Walthall, Pike, Franklin, Amite, Jefferson, Wilkinson and Adams. Troop M troopers responded to five collisions, which resulted in two injuries, during the 48-hour enforcement period. Troopers issued 215 hazard citations, 127 non-hazard citations, and 76 seatbelt or child restraint citations. Officers made two drug-related arrests and five arrests for driving under the influence. Troopers also assisted four motorists.

Across all nine state Troop areas, there were: 2,401 hazard citations; 1,481 non-hazard citations; 443 seatbelt citations; 65 child restraint citations; 42 motorist assists; 49 DUI arrests; 13 drug-related arrests; and five felony arrests. The felony and drug-related arrests may overlap.

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The 2023 total of 4,458 citations of various kinds was 45 percent fewer than 2022’s total of 7,999. The 508 restraint citations fell 40 percent short of the 860 in 2022. There were 119 fewer DUI arrests this year, compared to 168 in 2022. The number of motorist assists also dropped from 141 to 42.

Though there were 224 crashes in 2022 (compared to 76 this year), only one resulted in one fatality, compared to four in 2023 and four deaths.

This year, the 76 crashes investigated by MHP resulted in 30 injuries, including the four fatalities. These occurred in Panola, Marion, Chickasaw, and Itawamba counties.

On Monday, July 3, at approximately 3:56 p.m., troopers responded to a fatal crash on Hwy. 315 in Panola County. A 2022 Nissan Murano driven by 63-year-old Verda Taylor, of Sardis, was traveling north on Hwy. 6 when it collided with a 2016 Peterbilt driven by 55-year-old Charles L. Johnson of Enid, traveling south on Hwy. 315.

Taylor received fatal injuries; Johnson received moderate injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

At approximately 7 p.m. Monday, MHP responded to a fatal crash on Hwy. 35 in Marion County. A 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass, driven by 61-year-old Jerry Raynes of Carson, was traveling south on Hwy. 35 when it collided with a 2009 Toyota Camry driven by 20-year-old Joeana Rego of Columbia, which was traveling south on Hwy. 35. Raynes received fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

At approximately 8:07 p.m. Monday, troopers responded to a fatal crash on Hwy. 15 in Chickasaw County. A 2018 motorcycle driven by 50-year-old Christopher D. Mooneyham, of Houston, was traveling south on Hwy. 15 when it collided with a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic traveling north, driven by 48-year-old Jesse E. Rogers, attempting to turn left onto CR 405. Mooneyham suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Tuesday, July 4, at approximately 11:01 a.m., troopers responded to a fatal wreck on Hwy. 371 in Itawamba County. A 2005 Toyota Corolla, driven by 67-year-old Vernon Williams of Memphis, Tennessee, was traveling south on Hwy. 371 when it left the roadway, overturning several times. Williams suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

These crashes remain under investigation by MHP.