By NATHAN GREGORY
Oktibbeha County firefighters responded to three separate vehicle accidents Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. Oktibbeha County Emergency Services reported no fatalities from the incidents, but 11 people were transported to Oktibbeha County Hospital, including four which were airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said volunteers from the Adaton/Self Creek Volunteer Fire Department responded to the first accident, a two-vehicle head-on collision between a car and a truck, on Walter Bell Road at 6:16 p.m. The driver of the car was transported to OCH and later airlifted to NMMC. The two people in the truck also received treatment at OCH.
Volunteers from District 5 VFD responded to a one-car accident at 7:48 p.m. on Oktoc Road. Rosenhan said the car left the roadway and hit a driveway culvert before flipping and rolling for more than 100 feet. The driver was ejected from the car and was transported to OCH.
Central Oktibbeha VFD personnel were dispatched to the third accident involving a truck and a sport utility vehicle on Highway 25 just north of the Old Highway 25 intersection at Watt Hill. Rosenhan said this accident was the most serious of the three. He said first responders arrived on the scene at 1:05 a.m.
“The SUV contained a total of seven people. It rolled over several times, slid a considerable distance and landed on the passenger side. Responding emergency personnel were able to get some of the occupants through a rear opening of the SUV but used hydraulic rescue tools to cut away portions of the collapsed roof to reach over occupants,” Rosenhan said. “Ladder No. 2 of the Starkville Fire Department was also dispatched and assisted in the rescue operations. One of the occupants was transported by helicopter from the scene with another transported to OCH via ambulance and then on via helicopter.”
Rosenhan said there were no injuries in the other vehicle involved.
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the first two incidents, while Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating the wreck on Highway 25. Lt. Shank Phelps said OCSO assisted MHP at the accident scene.
“We had the Highway 25 northbound lane shut down for about two hours and assisted Mississippi Highway Patrol with the incident,” Phelps said. “We had three deputies on that scene (as well as the scenes of the other two accidents).”
Rosenhan said the amount of accidents and injuries set a record for a seven-hour period, and all 11 injuries were serious in nature.
“Chief Bennett George and the Central Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department did an excellent job in their response (to the accident on Highway 25,” he said. “Everything went just as smooth as glass. We’re sorry it happened, but that’s what we practice for, that’s what we train for, and that’s what we do.”
He said all departments involved were thorough and timely in responding to the accidents and assisting victims.
“I am extremely proud of the rapid, competent and efficient response of the fire departments involved,” he said. “All victims were safely extricated, packaged and prepared for transport and the incident scene quickly secured.”
Phelps said the accidents are still under investigation.
“It’s unusual for us to have accidents like that all in one night,” he said. “A lot of people want to get out when it’s pretty and warm. We want to remind everybody out riding around to obey speed limits, wear seat belts and be safe.”