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Driver: We all just felt helpless'

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 22, 2002
In an instant, Walter Ranstrom's frustration with the heat and the delay was replaced with the necessity to respond to an emergency.
It was Thursday about 3 p.m. Ranstrom was stuck in a traffic jam on Interstate 20/59, just east of Meridian. He and two co-workers from Huntsville, Ala., were heading home after a sales expo in Gulfport.
They barely escaped what many law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel are calling the worst accident they can remember a 10-car pile-up that killed two people and sent others to local hospitals.
Ranstrom had heard a radio report of a possible traffic jam up ahead. Just after passing through the city, the traffic was bumper to bumper.
That's when an 18-wheeler plowed into nine stalled cars just behind him before running up an embankment and turning over on its side. When the accident was over, Ranstrom said, he was one of the first people to try to help the victims.
As it turned out, there was but it was so mangled it was unrecognizable. Fortunately, Ranstrom said, both the woman and her 10-year-old grandson escaped the wreckage unharmed.
Surveying the damage, Ranstrom said he and his co-workers discovered a man's body lying in the median about 100 yards away from the accident site.
Within minutes, Ranstrom said, emergency personnel arrived and began to assess the victims' injuries.