9 vehicles involved in wreck on I-20

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2003

Two 18-wheelers block the eastbound lane of Interstate 20 at East Clay Street Wednesday night after a nine-vehicle pileup that tied up the interstate for 11 hours.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The VIcksburg Post)

[5/15/2003]After almost 11 hours of congestion, traffic along Interstate 20 East was moving this morning after a wreck Wednesday night involving nine vehicles, including four 18-wheelers.

“All I can say is that it is a miracle no one was hurt,” said Deputy Fire Chief Rose Shaifer, who was on the scene Wednesday night along with firefighters, rescue workers, Vicksburg police and Department of Environmental Quality officials.

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The 9:33 p.m. wreck, which damaged the bridge over East Clay Street, was a chain reaction, said Vicksburg Police Sgt. Jackie Johnson.

“The driver of the first truck said a flatbed truck in front of him struck his truck and caused him to hit the bridge,” Johnson said.

The driver, Jerry Jackson Stephens Jr., 39, 1208 Mobile Drive, Kingston, Tenn., was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence for refusing to be tested, said police spokesman Fran Jeffers.

Another 18-wheeler involved was carrying acetic acid.

“That added to the delay of getting the road cleared,” Jeffers said. Workers waited until DEQ officials were on the scene before attempting to move the vehicles, she said.

Congestion on East Clay Street from the wreck on the interstate contributed to another wreck this morning near the intersection of Berryman Road and East Clay Street, said Lt. Walter Beamon, commander of traffic division for the police department. No one was injured in the collision.

Earlier Wednesday, in another wreck, a Vicksburg woman who was thought to have blacked out while driving was injured when her car smashed into a house at 225 Porters Chapel Road.

Pauline Tarnabine, 77, 113 Overlook Drive, told Vicksburg Police she was not seriously injured just before she got out of her 1994 Ford Taurus. However, she was taken to River Region Medical Center by personal car and remained there this morning in fair condition in the intensive care unit, a hospital spokesman said.

Vicksburg Police Officer Bobby Jones said Tarnabine apparently blacked out and lost control of her 1994 Ford Taurus, causing it to hit a mailbox and then plowing through bushes in the yard of a nearby house, doing little damage to the house. Jones said he received the call for the accident at 2:05 p.m.

“I’ll be all right. Thank you,” Tarnabine told paramedics and a police officer around her. She got out of the car with little assistance.

Jones said no citations will be issued in the accident.

Westbound lanes of I-20 were blocked Tuesday afternoon when a camper-trailer and the vehicle pulling it overturned about two miles from Vicksburg’s corporate limits. It was that incident that triggered the deaths of two Vicksburg sisters when the car they were in hit the rear of a stopped or slowed 18-wheeler about three miles from the city limits.