Brandon driver dies in Cary wreck

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2001

Doug Covington, who works for Mississippi Valley Gas in Rolling Fork, repairs a natural gas leak that was caused when a mini-van driven by Dan Corey of Brandon hit it and crashed into a tree in the yard of Christopher Allen just south of Cary on U.S. 61.(The Vicksburg Post/MARK THORNTON)

[8/31/01]A Brandon man died Thursday afternoon after his minivan skidded off U.S. 61, broke a natural gas line and slammed into a tree in the front yard of a Sharkey County residence.

Dan Corey, whose age was not known, died at Sharkey-Issaquena Hospital after Sharkey deputies and firefighters from Rolling Fork and Cary pulled him from the vehicle. Natural gas was spewing into the air about 10 feet away.

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“It was a major concern,” Sharkey County Chief Deputy Cardell Hughes said. “We couldn’t tell if the vehicle was running, and there were all those fumes …”

Any spark could have resulted in an explosion, followed by an inferno.

“Normally we don’t move accident victims, but we felt like we had to get him out of there,” Hughes said.

It took about 10 minutes to get Corey, who was struggling for life, out of the van.

“He was a big guy, probably about 400 pounds,” plus the airbag had deployed, Hughes said.

Mississippi Valley Gas employee Doug Covington said the deputies did take a risk, but a necessary one.

“Any time you’ve got blowing gas, there’s a potential for danger,” said Covington, who put on goggles and ear muffs and dug down to the ruptured line and clamped it off just before 5 p.m., about 45 minutes after the wreck occurred. “With that amount of gas coming out and the (van’s) electrical system, there was the potential for a real problem.”

The Plymouth Voyager Corey was driving was owned by Transfer of Central Mississippi Inc., which ferries Medicaid patients to and from hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Corey had just dropped off a patient he had picked up at a Vicksburg hospital and taken the patient to Anguilla, TCM employee Lance Grinnell said this morning. He didn’t know the name of the patient or hospital.

Grinnell said Corey was married, but he didn’t know much about his co-worker.

“He was a temporary driver,” Grinnell said.

Corey’s van was headed south just across from Ballard Plantation, about a mile south of Cary. The vehicle wrapped around a tree in the front yard of Christopher Allen, 22, who works at Ballard. The house is also owned by the company.

Hughes said Corey did not lose consciousness at the scene. His injuries that proved fatal were not apparent.

“We do the best we can without any EMTs,” he said.

Hughes said the would-be rescuers smelled the fumes, but they didn’t really think about the danger.

“It’s what we get paid to do,” he said.