Police Fail To Notify Parents About Accident Involving Children - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/24/03

Police Fail To Notify Parents About Accident Involving Children

It's the late night phone call every parent dreads. A police officer is on the line saying your children have been involved in a serious accident.

Part of that story happened to Angel and Steve Archey of George County.

Their 18 year old son and 12 year old daughter were critically injured in a late night accident just two miles from home. Trouble is, they never got that phone call from the police. In fact, the parents didn't find out about the accident until more than six hours after it happened.

They're understandably frustrated and demanding some answers.

Zack Archey and his sister Chelsea were supposed to spend the night at a friend's house in Mobile after attending homecoming festivities. He decided instead to drive home to Lucedale after midnight. On the way home, Zack flipped his car on a dangerous curve on Highway 613.

 It happened just two miles from the house, but their parents were not notified.

"Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this. I want an answer. I want to know why we weren't notified. There's no excuse. I can't think of a single excuse," said Angel Archy, the mother.

Chelsea was taken to USA Medical Center by helicopter. Zack followed in the ambulance after EMT's used the jaws of life to cut him from the wreckage. The parents, at home and asleep, didn't learn of the wreck until the next morning when a family friend called.

"Imagine how you'd feel if you knew your children were seriously injured and they had been seriously injured for six hours before you even found out," said Angel Archey.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol handled the accident report.

"In most cases we're taking care of the welfare of the people that's been involved in the accident. And also clearing the road for other motorists. And we do this in all cases. On this particular one you're talking about, I'll have to look into it further," said Sgt. Joe Gazzo.

There's no law requiring police to notify the injured person's family. But several police officers we talked with say officers working an accident with injuries almost always notify the family as a courtesy. As one of them told WLOX News, it's the decent thing to do.

Angel Archey would have appreciated a little decency.

"If it wasn't their duty, I mean just out of compassion, just concern. I can't imagine not telling somebody's parents their children were gravely injured," she said.

Zach and Chelsea have both been moved out of intensive care.

Friends of the Archey's have set up a special bank account to help with the family's expenses. If you'd like to donate, you can contact the First National Bank in Lucedale.

by Steve Phillips

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