OAKLAND – One man was killed Monday afternoon after he took an Oakland police vehicle and crashed into an 18-wheeler minutes later on Hwy. 32 in Tallahatchie County.
Gregory Smith, 41, of Oakland was working off a fine at the police department when he took the vehicle and headed west on Hwy. 32 toward Charleston, according to Oakland Police Chief Russ Smith.
Tallahatchie Sheriff William Brewer was working with some cattle in a field near the highway when he saw the police car pass. Brewer said he was concerned that the driver was having problems because the vehicle was all over the road. “I knew there was something wrong,” he said.
After the car went out of sight, Brewer heard a crash and called the Sheriff’s Department dispatcher to summon help. Units from the Spring Hill Fire Department and the Charleston Rescue unit responded around 1:43 p.m.
Highway Patrol spokesperson TFC Joey Miller said the Oakland Police vehicle was traveling westbound on Hwy. 32 when it struck the back of an YRC 18-wheeler driven by James Mitchell of Grenada. The truck ended up on its side and Mitchell is reported to have neck and chest injuries.
The police vehicle then collided head on with a van owned by ALT Transportation. Driver Willie Rounds of Charleston was seriously injured and flown by helicopter to the MED in Memphis.
Radio traffic indicated that emergency responders would be needed to extract one or more of the victims from the wreckage. The debris blocked Hwy. 32 between Oakland and Charleston for more than an hour.
The accident is under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. An accident reconstructionist for the MHP was on the scene Tuesday.