Fatal crash on I-59 caused by cellphone usage

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2016

A fatal accident occurred early Friday morning on Interstate 59 in the northbound lane as a man walked for help after his vehicle broke down.

Twenty-six-year-old Jon Michel Clopton was fatally struck by a commercial 18-wheeler just after 5 a.m. at the 21.5 mile marker on I-59 N., Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage said.  

Clopton was walking with a family member on the right-hand shoulder toward Poplarville to get vehicle assistance at the time, Turnage said. 

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Clopton was pronounced dead on the scene. His cause of death was determined to be due to blunt force injuries, Turnage said. 

According to a preliminary investigation, the accident occurred because Clopton was preoccupied with his cellphone and veered out into traffic. 

“Most people have their life on their cellphone and unfortunately in this situation it cost a man his life,” Mississippi Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Chase Elkins said. 

Turnage warned residents against cellphone usage, both as a pedestrian and as a driver. 

“It not only endangers yourself, but it also endangers other people,” Turnage said. 

Elkins said using a cellphone while driving can cause three types of distractions: visual, manual and cognitive. When one action is chosen over another, a person’s capabilities are decreased and the likelihood of an accident increases. 

Statewide, fatalities are on the rise due to the increase use of cellphones, Turnage said. Troopers have also seen an increase in accidents caused by cellphone use, Elkins said. 

“Everybody’s guilty of it, even myself,” Turnage said. “As soon as you take your eyes and your mind off what you need to be focused on, your chance of a fatality increases.” 

About Julia Arenstam

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