Alcohol, speed blamed in fatal Diamondhead car accident

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County Sheriff's investigators now say speed and alcohol were contributing factors in a fatal single car accident Tuesday in Diamondhead.

Tests show 21-year-old Patrick Gardner of Diamondhead had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. He was pronounced dead at the scene as were passengers Nicholas Welch, 21, and Kayla Ladner, 16. A fourth passenger, 17-year-old Erin Doyle of Pearlington, is being treated for her injuries at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

The accident happened around 3:30pm on Diamondhead Drive West near Kino Street.

Clark Henegan was headed home from his afternoon work-out when he witnessed the tragic wreck.

"I knew when I saw them coming down Diamondhead Drive, I knew bad things were going to happen because they were moving really, really fast," Henegan said. "It was horrible."

Henegan said the driver left the road and ran onto the median.

"I know it lost control back there, but I don't know there was so much dust when it hit this median area. That's all I saw was stuff exploding when it hit the tree. And to see a car just explode like that, it wasn't good. It was horrible to see," Henegan said.

Hancock County Sheriff's Investigator Mathew Carver said, "The vehicle appeared to actually be almost split in half by the impact."

"There were two people who were obviously ejected from the vehicle," Henegan said.

Witnesses say the car was traveling more than 90 miles an hour. But Sheriff's investigators won't know for sure until the accident scene has been reconstructed.

"We're going to be analyzing the skid marks and things like that, and also the witness statements to see if we can come up with an estimated minimum speed and any contributing factors to the accident," Carver said.