OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The interstate opened back up about five hours after an early morning accident took the life 44-year-old Phillip Wesley Mullins, of Long Beach.
The accident only lasted for mere seconds, but the impact will be felt for a long time. An 18-wheeler was traveling in the westbound lanes when it crossed all the way over the eastbound lanes through oncoming traffic and into the grassy embankment beside the overpass near exit 50.
This path caused three other vehicles to crash, one being a motorcycle. Mullins was the rider of that motorcycle. He passed away on the scene. The interstate was shut down for more than an hour in both directions while crews worked to clean up the scene.
"The truck actually made an incision and punctured its saddle tank, where about 140 gallons of diesel fuel spilled out," said Nick Hatten, the on-scene coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol was working the case, but it took personnel from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, multiple fire stations, and MDEQ to get the roads back open.
"None of this would have happened as quickly as it has without all of the different agencies coming together to clear this scene," said MHP spokesman Chase Elkins.
Hatten said the accident left behind a serious mess. Fortunately, he said the spilled fuel was mostly pooled up in a trench dug out by the truck's wheels.
"The diesel fuel that spilled out carries an environmental protection agency hazardous waste code that must be cleaned up," said Hatten.
The fuel had to be pumped into barrels to haul away and destroy. Even after the scene was cleared, it was still easy to see the chaos the day brought to this section of highway.