Author: Angel Reyes  

Auto Accidents

As Hurricane Ida made landfall along the Gulf Coast in late September 2021, residents scrambled to evacuate low-lying coastal areas amid fears of flooding and high winds. Tragically, the path toward escape was blocked for some, as a section of a major highway collapsed in George County, Mississippi. The sudden collapse created a steep ditch into which seven vehicles plunged. Two people were killed, and 10 others were injured, with at least three of them sustaining injuries that were characterized as “life-threatening.”

Deceased victims have been identified

The George County Coroner, Dee Ann Murrah, released the identities of the two deceased victims. They are Jerry Lee, 49, of Lucedale, and Kent Brown, 49, of Leakesville. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Of the 10 injured victims, six were transported to local hospitals, two of them in critical condition. One of them was a high school senior. The remaining four injured victims refused medical attention.

Cause of the collapse tentatively identified

George County saw torrential rainfall as Hurricane Ida made landfall. Multiple roads in the area were reported to be flooded, and there were at least several inches of rainfall. It is believed the collapse of Highway 26 occurred because of the torrential rainfall, which likely compromised the ground underneath the highway. The crater was estimated to be 50 feet wide and 50 to 70 feet deep. It affected both lanes of the highway. All of the victims’ vehicles have already been recovered from the crater.

Barbara Cochran, a resident who lives nearby, reported hearing an extremely loud noise that night. She told the Clarion Ledger that she assumed a big rig had been in a wreck on the highway, but she was unable to see anything in the darkness. Cochran has witnessed damage from numerous hurricanes since moving into the nearby home with her husband in 1972. However, Hurricane Ida appeared to dump the most amount of rainfall on the land.

Cochran and other residents nearby expressed concerns about the potential state of other roadways in the area. Two sisters, Rachel Cole and Jennifer Bradley, traveled out to the highway the next morning to survey the damage. They informed the Clarion Ledger that it seemed likely the clay soil could have begun its destabilization process when Hurricane Zeta struck the area in 2020, as the work crews that cleaned up Zeta’s damage failed to remove the root structures of felled trees.

Could the victims have options for legal recourse?

When victims die or are injured in a car accident, it’s often possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver. But what about when a hurricane is responsible for deaths and injuries? Depending on the circumstances, there may still be liability issues involved. For example, it may be determined that work crews inappropriately destabilized the soil, leading to conditions that allowed for the deadly collapse of a roadway. In this situation, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against an at-fault municipal entity for road hazards created by negligence.

Contact us at Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley for a free consultation

If you or a loved one were injured in the highway collapse or any other type of car accident, you need legal representation you can count on to protect your rights and preserve your options for pursuing recourse. At the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm, we provide trusted counsel and aggressive litigation services to our clients. During the past 30-plus years of representing individuals in the Dallas, TX area, we’ve secured nearly $1 billion in jury awards and settlements for our clients.  Contact us today to request a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney. You have nothing to lose, as you will never owe us any attorney fees unless we recover damages on your behalf.

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