One year since tragic Highway 26 road collapse in George County

Today marks one-year since the deadly Highway 26 collapse in George County.

One year ago, tragedy struck George County when a strip of Highway 26, about 60 miles northeast of Biloxi, collapsed.

State troopers, emergency workers, and rescue teams responded at the collapse to find the east and westbound lanes completely washed away from rains caused by Hurricane Ida. State Trooper Cal Robertson said, “When I got the call, I had to ask the question twice, you know, what exactly was it that happened, because it’s not something like this that you run up on every day in your career, and I have not ever seen anything like this in my career.”

The National Weather Service reported more than eight inches of rain fell in the area during Ida, which is believed to have led to the collapse.

Because the incident happened at night, many drivers were unable to see the collapsed road until it was too late, which led to seven motorists driving into the hole.

Within those vehicles, nine were injured and two were killed, 49-year-old Jerry Lee and 49-year-old Kent Brown. One of the nine injured, 39-year-old Amanda Williams, later died from her injuries. George County Sheriff Keith Havard said, “Just a horrific scene and something that in my over 30 years of law enforcement this is the first time seeing anything like this.”

For the first responders on scene, it was a race against the clock to rescue each person still alive and trapped in the hole. After a long night, everyone was recovered from the collapse. “I’ve been on scene there. Everybody worked together from all different agencies, all different levels to accomplish getting people out as quickly and safely as we could.”

While the roadway is repaired and traffic continues to flow down the highway, the memory of the collapse and the tragedy it caused will stay with some forever. “To be just driving along the road that you’d normally be safe driving on and then all of a sudden the road’s gone, it’s a terror; and everything that was going on with those victims, I could only imagine what was going through their minds.”

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