Fatal crash on Popp's Ferry Bridge kills 22-year-old

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  A head-on crash involving a school bus killed a Biloxi man Friday morning and closed the Popp's Ferry Bridge for about two hours.

Joseph Wilkins, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene after he apparently lost control of his Toyota Four Runner and skidded into the path of an oncoming school bus. There were no children onboard the bus, which was headed back to the bus barn.

"Talked with the witnesses. Apparently the bus was going south bound and the other vehicle was going north bound and lost traction on top of the draw bridge and went into a spin and hit the bus head-on," said Biloxi Police Spokesman Darrell Montiforte.

Jennifer Hudson didn't see the accident from her bridge tender's position, but she definitely heard it when the vehicles collided.

"I was sitting in a chair and it sounded like a big old boom," HUdson said. "So I jumped up, 'cause I didn't know what happened, and I called the cops."

Police investigators say the wet, windy weather may have been a factor in what caused the fatal collision.

"These grates on top of the bridge, when it does rain and it is cold, they do tend to get slippery," said Montiforte.

"With the kind of weather we're having right now, especially with the holidays and everybody in a hurry, slow down a little bit and be a little safer," Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said.

The bus driver was not injured in the head on crash. Police diverted traffic from the normally busy bridge while investigators examined the crash site.

"The equipment we have on scene is our accident reconstruction.  Any time there's involving a fatality or serious injuries, I call my crew out, accident reconstructionists. They shoot the scene," said Montiforte.

Biloxi firefighters had to use the "jaws of life" to remove the victim from the badly damaged SUV.

The accident happened around 8:30 Friday morning.  The Popp's Ferry Bridge was closed for about two hours.

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