Cars collide only hours after traffic light comes on

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NATCHEZ — It didn’t take long Monday for fears to become reality at the newest traffic light near the intersection of John R. Junkin and Seargent S. Prentiss drives.

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., an 18-wheeler slammed into the rear a car stopped behind two other vehicles at the then-red light.

The car then struck another car in front of it. In the end, two cars were sandwiched between an 18-wheeler at the front of the line and the 18-wheeler at the back of the line.

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A final report wasn’t yet available at the Natchez Police Department but Capt. Tom McGehee said four or five people were transported to the hospital after the collision.

McGehee said the driver of the 18-wheeler that initially struck the first car was from out of town.

The traffic light was activated early Monday after blinking yellow last week.

It is a permanent part of the new continuous flow intersection in front of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Mississippi Department of Transportation Engineer Jim Eggleston said with the exception of the accident the new addition to the intersection went smoothly.

“It’s tragic that there was an accident, but I don’t think it means that there is a problem with the light,” he said.

Roadwork no the intersection will continue this week, and another layer of asphalt is scheduled to be poured at the end of the week, Eggleston said.

Work at the site should be complete within a few weeks.

Landscaping work was done Monday.

Eggleston and Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins urged motorists to drive slowly while workers are on site and until locals become comfortable with the changes.

“You have to slow down and be a defensive driver,” Mullins said. “You need to expect the other driver to do the wrong thing and then you are prepared for it.”