By JANE CLARK SUMMERS
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – One of Mississippi's most dangerous intersections claimed the life of a popular Alcorn Central High School student Thursday.
Christopher Anthony “Andy” Burcham, 18, described as a “great kid and rare individual,” died in a crash at the U.S. 72 intersection with Alcorn Central Road shortly before 7 a.m., said Alcorn County Coroner Dan Leeth. It took rescuers about three hours to free Burcham from the wreckage.
A witness at the scene said that Burcham's Toyota car crossed the median traveling north and that the teen apparently did not see an 18-wheeler, which was headed west on U.S. 72 just outside the city limits of Corinth.
The car hit the landing gear on the truck's trailer and was dragged several hundred feet before the truck driver could get stopped, at which time the vehicle exploded under the truck, the witness said.
Burcham was identified through his car's tag number.
The truck driver was shaken up but not injured in the accident, Leeth said.
Members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol were reconstructing the accident later Thursday. A dispatcher at MHP's New Albany headquarters said no details could be released until after this process is completed.
Burcham, a senior at Alcorn Central High School, recently had been elected Mr. ACHS and Most Athletic. He was a four-year member of the football team, played soccer two years and was in his fourth year on the track team.
He was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and 4-H, where he received archery honors.
ACHS Principal Rivers Stroup coached Burcham from the seventh to ninth grades.
“He was a great individual,” Stroup said. “He was an adult as a child, but more than that he was a great kid and a rare individual.”
Alcorn County School Superintendent Mike Wamsley said Burcham was very gregarious and always tried to help others. “He will be a tremendous loss to us all, especially to those who had gone to school with him and loved him,” Wamsley said.
A team of counselors and ministers were at the school by mid-morning Thursday and will be there today to help students deal with the tragedy, he said.
Danger at intersection
Wamsley said a group of citizens had tried to get a traffic light installed at the intersection, which has a flashing warning light.
He said he plans to contact MDOT officials in Jackson to see if additional steps can be taken to increase safety.
“This again points out a very clear need for a 72 bypass to avoid that truck traffic and so that the larger traffic does not mingle with students and others driving in the area,” Wamsley said.
Installing a traffic light at the intersection would not solve the problem and would create a greater danger, said Leeth, who has worked many wrecks as coroner and as an EMT at Magnolia Regional Health Center for 31 years.
The intersection is in the middle of nowhere, and wrecks often occur because drivers are not expecting to stop. In addition, drivers traveling east in the morning cannot see the traffic signal because of the sun, and the reverse is true in the afternoon, Leeth said.
Services for Andy Burcham will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Fraley's Chapel Church with McPeters Funeral Home in charge of arrangments.
Memorials may be sent to Lads to Leaders at the church at 3701 CR 100, Corinth, MS 38834. An Andy Burcham Scholarship Fund is being set up.