Two killed in pileup
SCATTERED DEBRIS – Debris litters the eastbound lanes of Interstate 20/59 after a Thursday afternoon wreck that closed part of the highway until 9:30 p.m. An eastbound 18-wheeler apparently collided with a line of cars stalled about a mile east of the Highway 19-Bonita Lakes exit. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael and Steve Gillespie / staff writers
June 21, 2002
At least two people were killed and several injured after a nine-car pileup on Interstate 20/59 east of Meridian left debris strewn across eastbound lanes of the highway Thursday.
A tractor trailer apparently collided with eight cars stalled in traffic about a mile east of the Highway 19-Bonita Lakes exit. Signs near the accident alerted drivers of possible road work, but it was unclear if any was being done Thursday.
The 18-wheeler drove off the south side of the interstate, ran up an embankment and flipped onto its side. The accident happened at about 3 p.m.; eastbound lanes were closed until 9:30 p.m.
Officials identified one of the dead as Guy Thrasher, 63, of Toomsuba; it was unclear if he was a driver or passenger in any of the vehicles. Officials hadn't identified the second person who died.
Lauderdale County Medical Examiner Marl Cobler said that Thrasher was pronounced dead at 6 p.m. at Rush Foundation Hospital from injuries sustained in the accident.
The wreck was the fourth within a month on I-20/59 near Meridian. The other three wrecks also involved 18-wheelers and were near road construction work.
Lauderdale County Deputy Coroner Clayton Cobler said the wreck was the worst he's ever seen. He said he has "never seen this many cars involved with this much damage. It's just unreal."
Cobler said the unidentified victim was found dead-on-the-scene under a trailer.
Darvol Hart, 23, of Newton, was driving the Z-71 truck that was pulling the trailer. Hart said he was stopped in traffic when the 18-wheeler and the cars behind him crashed into his trailer.
Billy Ivy, 51, of York, Ala., was returning home in his green Ford Ranger pickup truck when his vehicle was struck. Ivy had been running an errand in Meridian.
The Meridian Police Department's accident reconstruction team is investigating the wreck under the direction of Capt. Jeff Lewis and with help from the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department.
The Sheriff's Department is using its "Total Station" equipment a mapping tool used to electronically record measurements to help officers determine speeds and the sequence of events at crime and accident scenes.
Officials would not release the name of the driver of the 18-wheeler. Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said the tractor-trailer was carrying non-hazardous merchandise.
MPD also hopes to identify the second person killed in the crash, a man who was thrown from one of the vehicles. Cobler said the man had a check in his pocket made out to an insurance company.