Fatality remains mystery nearly two weeks after incident

Published 12:54 am Friday, November 24, 2017


NATCHEZ — Nearly two weeks after a woman was struck by a car and killed the night of Nov. 11 on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, many aspects of her death remain a mystery.

Meagan Gunter Smith, the 32-year-old woman hit by the vehicle, was reportedly crossing the highway late that night when a GMC Yukon Denali SUV headed southbound hit Smith.

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Natchez police responded to a call at approximately 11:13 p.m., and Smith was dead upon officers’ arrival, Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

“As far as I know, she was just out walking,” Armstrong said.

To date, the man who struck Smith has not been charged with a crime, and his name has not been released. Police have said they believe alcohol might have played a part in the incident, but they will not know for sure until the driver’s blood work and other testing is completed by the Mississippi State Crime Lab. Due to a heavy backlog at the crime lab, those results could take months to return, Armstrong has said.

But other circumstances surrounding the death remain unclear.

Based on an eyewitness to the accident, Armstrong said Smith ran across the highway.

The chief said Smith appeared to be going to Walmart — near where the collision occurred — and though nothing definitive has confirmed that theory. Armstrong said he did not know from where Smith was walking.

Smith’s father, Barry Gunter, said his daughter had just returned back home after living in Columbia, Miss. Gunter said she had only been back in Natchez four days when the incident occurred.

The father said he is “living his worst nightmare,” and the circumstances are made worse by the dearth of details available.

“It’s been pretty tight-lipped,” Gunter said.

Gunter said his daughter did not have a car at the time of the incident, and she was apparently fixing up to live with one of her friend’s in an apartment near Parkway Baptist Church, approximately 1 1/2 miles from the site of the collision.

But Gunter said he still does not know why she would be walking out at that time of night.

Additionally, he wants an arrest to be made if indeed the driver who struck Smith was intoxicated.

“I just want justice for my daughter,” Gunter said.

Armstrong has also said the investigation is made more complex because even if alcohol played a role in the crash, determining whether that directly caused the incident is difficult.

The case remains under investigation, though Natchez Police Capt. Scott Frye said the case virtually sits at a standstill until results come back from the crime lab.

Adams County Coroner James Lee could not be reached for comment.