An early morning accident claimed the life of Craig Mathis, 55, of Saucier, and left live power lines dangling precariously over first responders, causing the highway to be closed in both directions. Corporal Benjamin Siebert of the Mississippi Highway Patrol says, "We have Highway 53 here shut down for about two hours while we were investigating the accident."
Drivers were turned away as law enforcement and the fire department worked to free the driver’s body from the truck. While the jaws of life were being used, Mississippi Power workers stepped in to cut the power and assess the damage. Bill Snyder, Corporate Communications Specialist for Mississippi Power, says, "For our crews, it becomes kind of a long day, but they’re used to this. It’s what they’re trained for. As far as our customers, about 180 customers, if things go well and according to plan, probably about a three to four hour disruption of service."
The utility truck was travelling northbound on Highway 53 when it swerved right off the road, striking the power pole. The driver was killed, but first responders had to deal with the added danger of live power lines. Siebert also says, "Anytime you have a broken power pole and downed power lines, you have that added risk and added danger."
First responders are known for running toward danger, but this situation is one they’re prepared for. Snyder closes, "It’s called Electrical Safety Program. We do classes with our local first responders in an event like this one to make sure everything and everyone is safe."
Local businesses News 25 spoke to understood the situation and will work around any power loss.