Pedestrian killed on Seargent S. Prentiss late Saturday night
Published 4:35 pm Sunday, November 12, 2017
NATCHEZ — An apparent collision late Saturday off Seargent S. Prentiss Drive near Walmart lead to the death of a Natchez woman.
Though Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said the investigation is ongoing and case details still developing, he said the victim, Meagan Gunter-Smith, appears to have been walking across the highway when a southbound vehicle struck Gunter-Smith.
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She was pronounced dead at the scene, and her body was sent Sunday to Jackson for an autopsy, Armstrong said. The autopsy report should come back, he said, in the next few days.
Police responded to the scene at approximately 11:13 p.m. The one eyewitness to the collision was heading northbound when he saw Gunter-Smith on the side of the road, Armstrong said. The eyewitness reportedly turned around, planning to offer the woman a ride.
On his way back, the witness reportedly told police he saw Gunter-Smith running across the road when the vehicle, a GMC Yukon Denali, struck her. Armstrong said she was crossing to the west side of the highway.
The chief did not disclose the name of the driver, whom police have not charged with any crime.
Armstrong, however, said police had taken the driver’s blood work to send to the Mississippi State Crime Lab.
“We do believe alcohol may have been involved,” Armstrong said. “To say whether or not the crash would have happened if alcohol had not been involved, we don’t know, because (based upon) our information, the deceased was crossing the road in the path of the southbound vehicle.”
The results from the crime lab could determine whether the driver will face any sort of charge. Unfortunately, Armstrong said, the backlog at the state crime lab is such that a quick turnaround for results is not expected.
“It could be months,” he said. “It could definitely be months.”
The driver reportedly claimed to have mistakenly thought he hit a deer, not a human being.
Law enforcement officials continue to investigate the incident.
Gunter-Smith’s father, Barry Gunter, lamented the loss of his daughter, who he said was only 31 years old.
“You never want to live long enough to bury your kids,” Gunter said. “She had a heart of gold. She would always try to lend a helping hand if she could before herself.
Gunter also said his daughter left behind four children.
“That’s the real heartbreaker,” he said.
Gunter said he had no idea what his daughter would have been doing in that area at that time of night. He also expressed surprise that no arrest was made that night.
The driver, Gunter said, parked his car in the Walmart parking lot after allegedly striking Gunter-Smith.
“He hit her and kept going … for him to leave the scene of an accident, something ain’t right about it,” Gunter said.
Armstrong confirmed that the driver parked his car in the Walmart parking lot after the alleged collision. Later Saturday evening, Armstrong said an arrest at some point in the future is likely.
“We’re probably going to end up levying some charges,” Armstrong said. “It’s starting to lean that way.”