Accident in shopping center lot leaves driver hospitalized

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

First responders aid a man identified by police as Morgan Jude Mitchell after a crash in a Picayune parking lot. Photo by JoAnne Norton

A car crashed into three parked vehicles and a building Saturday afternoon at a shopping center just east of Walmart Supercenter, seriously injuring the driver.

Morgan Jude Mitchell, 25, of Chalmette, La., was driving on Frontage Road off Highway 43 about 4:40 p.m. when the accident occurred, Picayune Police Capt. James Bolton said.

The car Mitchell was driving, a 2012 Nissan Altima owned by Brittany Ducote, first hit a 2014 Hyundai Elantra, forcing it into a brick column, and a parked 1995 Ford F-150, which was partially knocked onto the walkway in front of the Rent-A-Center store at 229 Frontage Road.

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The Altima sideswiped a 2002 Dodge 1500 pickup parked in the lot between Rent-A-Center and the GNC store at 231 Frontage Road, before finally smashing into the north wall of the GNC store, Bolton said.

All three parked vehicles were owned by employees of Rent-A-Center, according to Emery Karliner, a manager at the store.

“I’m just happy no one was hurt,” he said. “Cars can be replaced.”

Witnesses called 911, and some bystanders broke a window of the Altima to try to help the driver after spotting smoke inside the car.

Bolton said Mitchell was transported by helicopter to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, and his condition is unknown.

Investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing, but possible narcotic impairment is suspected, Bolton said.