HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - WLOX.com checked with staff members at Memorial Hospital to get a status report on Paige Matthews. We're told the 19-year-old remains in serious but stable condition.
Matthews was one of two girls thrown from her car as it flipped several times off of I-10. That Thursday morning accident was near the 12 mile marker in Hancock County.
Seven people, members of two families from Arkansas, were traveling to the Alabama Gulf Coast for a beach vacation. Officials say the driver of the SUV told them he dozed off.
The ten hour drive to Orange Beach ended in tragedy just 12 miles inside Mississippi.
"We had a '94 Toyota 4-Runner traveling east bound," said Sgt. Johnny Poulos with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. "Vehicle left the roadway, driver lost control of the vehicle, came back onto the roadway rolling over several times, ran off of the right side of the interstate ejecting two passengers."
Taliyah McGhee, 10, died after she was thrown from the SUV.
"Upon arrival, the sheriff's department found her in the trees," said Jeff Myers with the West Hancock Volunteer Fire Dept.
Paige Matthews, 19, was also thrown from the vehicle. Authorities say McGhee and Matthews were both sitting in the cargo are on a seat that had been added.
"There was a make-shift seat in the rear of the vehicle that was not factory equipment. It was placed in there, apparently, out of another vehicle. It was tied down, secured with a tow strap. Definitely a factor in this crash," Myers said.
Johnny Poulos with the Mississippi Highway Patrol said there's no law against modifying a car, as was done in this case.
"The only charge is still a seatbelt violation. This situation could have been avoided," Poulos said. "This tragic situation, we did have two separate families in this vehicle and there were some good decisions made and there were some really bad ones. And, unfortunately, loss of life occurred."
A family member contacted WLOX News and shared photos of the family. Those in the vehicle were identified by officials as:
- Taliyah McGhee, 10, Donaldson, AR
- Jody Morrison, 37, Friendship, AR
- Nicholas Matthews, 36, Donaldson, AR
- Zane Morrison, 14, Friendship, AR
- Braden Morrison, 10, Friendship, AR
- Katie Matthews, 3, Donaldson, AR
- Paige Matthews, 19, Donaldson, AR
Paige is at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport. The other survivors of the accident were treated and released from the hospital.