January 10, 2017 10:12:08 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
An Oktibbeha County justice court judge is recovering after he was injured Sunday in a three-car accident.
District 2 Judge Larnzy Carpenter was taken to OCH Regional Medical Center after his vehicle, which was stationary at the intersection of Highway 25 and Longview Road, was struck by a driver attempting to avoid another automobile.
Central Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene at about 9 a.m., Chief Joe Pennell said, and first responders were forced to use hydraulic rescue tools to extract Carpenter from his vehicle.
Pennell said the extraction was made difficult by one of the vehicles involved in the accident coming to a rest close to the driver's side of Carpenter's vehicle. It appeared the vehicle T-boned Carpenter's, he said.
The Dispatch was unable to verify Carpenter's condition Monday, but many sources contacted said they think he was discharged from another medical facility the night of the wreck.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol worked Sunday's accident, but a spokesperson did not return a phone call for additional information Monday.
Carpenter is not scheduled to preside over Oktibbeha County Justice Court until Jan. 24.
Safety discussions about the Highway 25-Longview intersection and nearby Old Highway 25-Poor House Road began last year after multiple traffic accidents were reported in the area.
In October, supervisors tasked County Engineer Clyde Pritchard with conducting a safety study and said they were interested in illuminating the area at night and installing a traffic control device.
Two months later, the Mississippi Department of Transportation recommended short-term and long-term fixes for the Old Highway 25-Poor House Road intersection, which included trimming vegetation within the area's right-of-way to improve line-of-sight issues, adding enhanced signage, installing rumble strips and constructing a modern roundabout to help traffic flow.
An email from MDOT to Pritchard said the intersection's volume does not warrant the installation of a traffic signal.
"I don't know what happens with those intersections. People get into a trance and forget to look (both ways)," Pennell said.
At least one death was reported in the area at the end of 2016. Richard C. Ochoa, 30, of Pearl, died in October after he drove onto Highway 25 from Longview Road and was struck by a northbound vehicle. Ochoa was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident, Coroner Michael Hunt said last year.
"It's not the road that's causing problems," said Road Manager Victor Collins in October. "Some (drivers) come out and get in the (right) lane, and you can get around them. But some come out and get in the left lane. If someone's beside you, they can't see (around your vehicle). I've seen that happen several times. The only thing that'll probably cure the problem is a four-way stop or a bridge with a speed ramp where cars can get up to speed and merge."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch