U.S. 80

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

wreck kills man

Vicksburg Fire Department EMTs Phillip Tolstad, left, and Wade Thomas remove George Davis from a car that careened off U.S. 80 and was found Tuesday morning. The deputy is Ford Emery. A man identified as Tony Gibson died in the one-car wreck.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[4/28/04]A methodical search led deputies to a roadside ravine near Clear Creek Tuesday, in time to find a man pleading for help on a fading cell phone, but not for his companion who was killed when their car careened off the road, perhaps the night before.

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“We knew we were pressed for time,” Sheriff Martin Pace said.

As many as 12 deputies joined the search of the Bovina area after George Davis, 42, placed the 911 call at 9:34 a.m.

Deputies switched on their vehicles’ sirens and dispatchers asked Davis to tell them when he heard one. When he did, the deputies were directed to silence their sirens and then each was directed to restart his siren in a “roll call” until the injured man reported hearing the sound again.

It was then that deputies Todd Dykes and John Roland were able to find the wreck and Davis, off U.S. 80 about a mile west of the Big Black River.

Tony Gibson, 34, whose identifying documents showed his home address as 106 Azalea Lane, was dead in the vehicle. Coroner John Thomason said Gibson died instantly of a closed-head injury. His body was released to Glenwood Funeral Home.

Davis, 42, whose address was listed as 508 Janice Ave., in Delta, La., was taken to River Region Medical Center, then transferred to University Medical Center in Jackson. He was listed in fair condition this morning.

The injured man was able to give 911 personnel only a general estimate of his location and a description of his physical surroundings.

“At this point it is possible that Davis could have been unconscious for some time,” Pace said, adding that part of the investigation that continues is to determine when the wreck occurred.

Deputies canvassed Interstate 20, U.S. 80, Bovina Cut-Off Road, Warriors Trail and Tiffentown Road and secondary roads connecting with those thoroughfares in the search.

“We knew his cell-phone battery wasn’t going to last forever,” Pace said. “We dedicated a lot of deputies with very little to go on.”

Hinds County Sheriff’s Department personnel were also notified, and at least three of them also participated in the search, checking adjacent areas across the Big Black River.

It had not been determined who was driving the Mazda in which the two were traveling or when it ran off the north side of U.S. 80 and nosedived 20 to 30 vertical feet into a ravine.

“Initial examination of the scene does not indicate any contact with another vehicle,” Pace said. Apparently neither victim was wearing a seat belt, Pace said.

Gibson was a 1988 graduate of Porters Chapel Academy and was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church.

He and Davis may have been roommates in the mobile home at the Janice Avenue address, Pace said.

Among Gibson’s survivors are his parents, Everett and Ann Gibson, of Vicksburg, and one son.

The car and, apparently, the cell phone Davis used to report the wreck, belonged to a third party, Pace said.

Davis did not even know a cell phone was in the car, Pace said. He became aware of it when it rang with an incoming call, Pace added. Then, he used it to call 911.