JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The truck driver has been identified after the 18-wheeler he was driving went over the side of the Pascagoula River Bridge, crashing into the water below.
47-year-old Taj Latos Sanford of Gulfport was the man killed in the accident, according to Jackson County coroner Bruce Lynd.
Dive teams recovered the driver’s body around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, about three hours after the tractor-trailer went over the side of the I-10 bridge.
Emergency Management Director Earl Etheridge said the tractor-trailer was trying to avoid another accident. The tractor separated from the truck cab during the accident, causing the truck to go one way and the trailer to go the other. The truck then went through the bridge’s concrete wall, falling into the Pascagoula River, where it was submerged in about nine feet of water.
A passenger sleeping in the back of the truck’s cab was able to safely get out.
“We were able to rescue the passenger of the 18-wheeler," said Etheridge. "He suffered minor injuries. He was asleep when the cab of the truck went over the bridge.”
Dive teams from the Department of Marine Resources and from Gautier Police Department worked together to retrieve the driver’s body from the truck.
Cal Robertson with Mississippi Highway Patrol told WLOX that the tentative plan is to remove the 18 wheeler from the water by using Danny’s Towing of Moss Point, which is expected to be out there Wednesday at noon.
The decision was made to use a crane on a barge so the recovery does not disrupt I-10 traffic. It could take five to six hours from the time they start lifting it.
Danny Weaver said his team was called out there Tuesday morning, shortly after the accident happened, to see how they can pull the truck out. He said the trailer is damaged and is unsure if it will stay intact when they begin to lift it.
“It’s broken up pretty good. One of the walls is broken out of the trailer. We really don’t’ know what we’re going to encounter," Weaver said. "Just hope for the best.”
Although Weaver has retrieved a lot of cars, he said, this will be his first tractor-trailer retrieval.
Jackson County Fire Department, Moss Point and Gautier police departments, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, DMR, and Acadian are all worked together earlier Tuesday.