Wreck on North Circle causes concern

Published 11:58 am Monday, May 19, 2008

NATCHEZ — An accident late Saturday night on North Circle Drive left two vehicles wrecked and a handful of residents confused.

Cynthia Barnes said she was getting ready to go out for the night when she heard a loud crash in front of her house.

A pickup truck collided with her cousin’s car that was parked on the curb just before midnight Barnes said.

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Barnes’ cousin, Eric Davis, was in the parked car and sustained no injuries in the accident.

Barnes, Davis and other witnesses at the scene all said the driver of the truck, Lee McLemore, appeared intoxicated.

“He was drunk,” Barnes said.

However McLemore and the Natchez Police Department don’t agree with that assertion.

McLemore said while he had been drinking earlier that night he had not had a drink for at least four hours prior to the accident.

McLemore said the accident happened because he was looking at his phone, not because he was drunk.

Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said officer Phillip Smith administered a field sobriety test, which McLemore passed.

“He did not show intoxication,” Mullins said.

But witnesses from the scene say they felt McLemore should have been arrested.

“I was very surprised when he wasn’t arrested,” Barnes said.

Kevin Bates, a resident who lives near the accident site, said McLemore knocked on his door and asked that Bates drive his truck home since he felt that he was not able to drive.

Bates said prior to the night of the accident he had never met McLemore.

However McLemore said he was “referred,” to Bates by individuals he knew that lived near the accident.

McLemore said he initially asked someone to drive because an officer at the scene told him he had five minutes to get the truck out of the street or risk having it towed.

While residents on North Circle Drive maintain McLemore should have been arrested Mullins said Smith had no cause to apprehend McLemore.

“He was not drunk,” Mullins said.