Holiday travel brings one fatality on state roads, but plenty of tickets

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported only one highway fatality in Mississippi during the Christmas holiday period, but it issued more than 4,000 tickets.

The holiday period began at 6 p.m. Friday and ended at midnight Monday.

Jennifer Hussey, 40, of Petal was killed on U.S. Highway 11 Saturday when her car went off the road and rolled over after she lost control. Hussey was ejected from her 1999 Mazda just north of Petal. Officials said Hussey likely would have survived if she was wearing a seat belt.

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“The thing that bothered me was the amount of seat-belt tickets that we issued,” Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. H.L. Kitchens said.

The Highway Patrol ticketed 82 drivers for violation of the more strict seat-belt law, which took effect May 27. Kitchens said 40 parents were ticketed for not having children buckled.

At least one other death occurred during the holiday period, but the patrol only counts fatalities on highways driven by state troopers.

In Jackson County, 18-year-old Bronson Anaya died in a single-car accident on a county road. The Vancleave High School student was driving around a curve when his pickup truck ran off the road, plowed into a field, struck a fence and overturned.

During the Thanksgiving holiday a month of ago, four people died on state highways. Kitchens said he’s “shocked” by the low number of fatalities during the Christmas holiday considering rainy conditions caused slick roads throughout the state.

“It is considered a win for us,” he said.

The patrol issued a total of 4,143 tickets, including 73 for driving under the influence of alcohol and 10 for drug arrests.

Kitchens said troopers were somewhat lenient during the Christmas holiday but warned they won’t be during the upcoming New Year’s holiday period, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. and lasts to midnight Monday.

“We’ll definitely be out in force,” Kitchens said. “We want to start the new year out right.”