Dangerous Intersection Improved After Recent Fatality

The intersection of Highway 63 and 614 in Jackson County has claimed another life this week, that of 20-year old Daryl Smith.

Now, steps have been taken to fix the problem. But those who have been affected by this intersection won't soon forget how tragedy has changed their life.

"It's always been a dangerous intersection," Lucedale resident Annette Riley says.

Protected-turn traffic lights and brand new caution signs were recently put in at the intersection of Highways 614 and 63. For Annette Riley, who lost her mother 54 year old Betty Stringer two years ago, these are additions she says are long overdue.

"If the proper equipment would have been up there at the time, a green arrow to turn, she would have not been anywhere where the truck could have hit her," says Riley.  Looking through photos of her mom, Riley remembers her mom's smile. But she also remembers her mom's anxiety about the intersection.

"She had mentioned to me before about how dangerous it was trying to cross cuz it was just yield on green," Riley says.

Riley's mother was so cautious that she'd make a slight detour to avoid turning in the intersection. She'd enter into this church parking lot, exit through the other side, then be able to proceed east on 614. All without making what was then an unprotected turn.

"It was really foggy, so she decided to take that shortcut again. She had the green light to cut straight across. And when it did, an 18 wheeler hit her," Riley says.

Along the road are several crosses, remembering the different fatalities in recent years.

"You'll see crosses and flowers and it's sad because it doesn't have to happen," Riley says.

Riley hopes that with the new equipment now in place, that someone else's life will be spared.

"I'm just sad it wasn't there when my mom had her wreck. The wreck wouldn't have happened. I just think that maybe someone else's loved one won't be involved in an accident because they have provided that equipment," Riley says.

WLOX spoke to Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Gazzo says his department will continue to increase their presence in this area of Jackson County. He says the volume of traffic makes the intersection dangerous. But he says speed and reckless driving are top reasons for accidents like the ones that frequently occur at this intersection.