Five-vehicle wreck jams bridge traffic

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

Traffic on the eastbound side of the Mississippi River Bridge was moving in two directions for about an hour and a half Monday afternoon after a five-vehicle accident left the westbound side closed.

At about 1:20 Monday afternoon, a truck had stopped traffic on the bridge when the boat attached to it came loose. Two vehicles were stopped in the left-hand lane and two in the right. According to Natchez Police officer Gerald Mooney, an 18-wheeler hauling sweet potatoes was traveling in the right-hand lane as he tried to brake for the stopped traffic. Seeing he could not stop in time, driver James Troy Hill of Grenada turned his vehicle to the left lane. He hit Verlon Walker’s Dodge pickup truck, sitting the right lane, from behind and sideswiped Eddie Hobson’s Toyota SUV in the left lane. He then hit Chawn Brossette’s GMC pickup truck in front of the SUV and finally came back to the right lane to hit an 18-wheeler in front of Walker’s truck, knocking the semi against the bridge guardrail.

It is not completely clear whether Hill hit Walker’s truck or Hobson’s SUV first, Mooney said.

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No one was seriously injured in the accident. Walker had the most injuries with scrapes and scratches. No one was taken to the hospital.

As taillight fragments lay on the bridge, tow trucks took many of the vehicles away while westbound traffic, heading into Louisiana, was

diverted to the eastbound bridge, leaving it a two-lane highway for about an hour and a half.

Traffic was backed up, at one point to Rivergate Bowling Lanes on John R. Junkin Drive in Natchez. Traffic resumed on the westbound side of the bridge around 3 p.m.

The wheels of the 18-wheeler driven by Hill had locked up, causing a longer time for towing and thus, a long time before the accident could be cleared for traffic to flow again.

&uot;There was no way to clear the bridge any faster,&uot; Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said.

&uot;We appreciate the public’s patience.&uot;

Mullins said, to help avoid more damage and injury when traffic is stopped, drivers should stop their vehicles with plenty of space between their car and the next and should even get out of the vehicle.