Five highway deaths over holiday weekend

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi highways saw five fatal accidents out of the 135 traffic crashes during the three-day Labor Day holiday period.
The number of deaths was identical to the 2011 Labor Day weekend, but worse than the Independence Day period this year when only one fatality was reported.
The only Northeast Mississippi death and the only one recorded by the Mississippi Highway Patrol on Monday occurred in Blue Mountain. The driver of a 2008 Peterbilt tractor-trailer, William B. Rakestraw, 44, of Blue Mountain, crashed into the rear of a 1986 Chevrolet truck, causing both vehicles to catch fire.
James H. Stagener, 75, of Blue Mountain, and his wife Annie Stagener, 67, were trapped in the truck and had to be extricated.
James Stagener died from injuries sustained in the accident and his wife was air-lifted to the MED in Memphis where she was listed Tuesday in critical condition with severe burns. The accident is still under investigation.
Over the three-day weekend, 4,625 traffic citations were issued and 144 drunk drivers were arrested.
Arrests for driving under the influence also were higher this holiday weekend than the Independence holiday, even with Hurricane Isaac significantly affecting the number of troopers on DUI crackdown. The Independence Day enforcement period saw 95 DUI arrests.
While fatalities were the same during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, there were more crashes – 206 – but fewer citations issued (2,705) and 99 DUI arrests made.
jb.clark@journalinc.com