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Interstate 20 wreck kills driver towing van

Vicksburg Fire Department Paramedic EMT Michael David, third from right, and Culkin Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Kenny Pugh, second from right, work to clear the site of a fatal wreck Wednesday.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[7/3/03]A small pickup towing a van jackknifed in the path of an 18-wheeler Wednesday morning, resulting in the death of the Columbus, Ga., man driving the pickup.

Authorities identified the man who was killed as Robert Billings, 73.

The wreck occurred about 10 a.m. on Interstate 20 in the eastbound lanes about a mile past the Flowers exit.

Ray Steed, accident reconstructionist for the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, indicated the accident appeared unavoidable once the Nissan entered the path of the 18-wheeler.

“He was pulling that van, and he pulled right in front of me,” said John Bell William Jr., 63, driver of the 18-wheeler hauling steel pipe.

William, a Florida resident, was not injured. Nor was Billings’ stepson, 28-year-old Roger Hamilton, also of Columbus, who was riding in the van.

Warren County Coroner John Thomason said the impact killed Billings within seconds. His body was taken to Jefferson Funeral Home pending other arrangements.

The wreck was one in a series of fatal accidents before this week’s Fourth of July holiday period begins.

A Clinton man was also killed Wednesday in a one-car accident in Hinds County. Ryan Sporandeo, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene, said Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin. Matthew Dearman, 23, of Edwards, was injured in the same accident and was in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center in Jackson.

McMillin said it appeared that Sporandeo’s car ran off a county road and hit a tree.

A Texas teen was killed Tuesday when two four-wheelers collided along a Grenada County road, Sheriff Alton Strider said.

He said Jamarcus Sentron Tillmon, 17, of Killeen died in the accident at Nat G. Troutt and Biddy roads near Camp McCain.

The driver of the four-wheeler on which Tillmon was a passenger told deputies he applied his brakes in an attempt to avoid deer in the roadway. A trailing four-wheeler then ran into its back, causing it to flip several times. Tillmon was in Grenada visiting relatives, Strider said.

In Lauderdale County, authorities are investigating a one-vehicle accident in which one teen was killed and her twin sister was seriously hurt.

Heather Eggleston, whose age was not available, was driving the car Monday when it left Russell-Topton Road and struck a tree, Lauderdale County officers said. Eggleston died shortly after the accident.

Her twin sister, Ashley, remained in serious condition Wednesday at a Meridian hospital.