Highway 26 collapse leaves two dead, at least ten injured in George County
Two people are dead and ten more injured after a portion of a road collapsed in George County. Forty-two-year-old Jerry Lee of Lucedale and 49-year-old Kent Brown of Leakesville were killed.
George County resident Barbara Cochran lives near the scene of the accident. She said, “It was like a thud. It felt like a tree had fallen on my house. I looked out all the windows and couldn’t see anything. I heard another thud and looked out another window and I still couldn’t see anything.”
Cochran says she heard multiple thuds Monday night. When she looked out her window for an explanation, she could only see complete darkness. “Every once and a while, I could hear a motor so I thought someone was trying to get their car started or something.”
Little did she know, those thuds were the sounds of cars falling inside the washout, one on top of the other. The rain was so heavy that drivers did not see the missing roadway before it was too late.
The collapsed portion of Highway 26 stretches about 50 feet long and has a depth of 20 feet. Doug Adams with the George County Sheriff’s Office said, “This was a total surprise. I’d seen some pictures, but it’s a lot different when you see it in person. This is pretty devastating.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies and locals assisted in rescuing the victims and removing the vehicles. Adams said, “That’s one thing you can say about the folks of George County, they are going to turn out once they hear that something has gone wrong. There were people out here with light banks, not even firefighters, just construction people that had equipment at their house. We had a local company bring the crane which really helped with the time getting people rescued as quickly as they did.”
Highway 26 goes from state line to state line passing through Pearl, Stone, and George counties. This accident took place west of Lucedale in George County. Mississippi Highway Patrol PIO Calvin Robertson said, “A lot of commuters come here daily, relying on this road to get to their jobs. You have log trucks, people going to their jobs, school buses, transportation vehicles, and emergency personnel that need to travel here as well.”
George County School Superintendent Wade Whitney Jr. said, “I think everybody that’s traveling this road now or just traveling roads in general is a little uneasy because it’s such a major thoroughfare.”
George County schools had to cancel class on Tuesday because of the washout.