BY MARY GARRISON
Mississippi Highway Patrol officers had their hands full throughout the July 4 weekend. The Golden Triangle region in particular was a hotspot for DUI activity, according to MHP citation reports.
MHP issued 6,555 citations statewide and arrested 203 drivers statewide on suspicion of DUI, according to the report. Troop G â€” the Golden Triangle district â€” lead the state in DUIs with 36 of those arrests, up from the 20 arrests made in the region last year. Overall, Troop G issued 983 citations and responded to 11 accidents, with five residents suffering injuries as a result. Of those 983 citations, about half were non-moving violations including seatbelt and insurance citations, according to Sgt. Criss Turnipseed, Troop G public information officer.
"Most of those (non-moving violations) we catch at checkpoints," Turnipseed said. "We had a good mix of hazardous and nonhazardous violations this year. ... It was more (overall) this year. This is the most we've had in a while."
According to MHP 2013 holiday citation reports, Troop G issued only 854 citations last year. Of those 407 were nonhazardous. MHP responded to 11 accidents last year as well, however just one injury was reported.
Fatalaties increased this year, as well. Statewide, MHP reported seven fatal accidents this year â€” up two from 2013 â€” on Mississippi roads â€” one in Holmes County, one in Bolivar County, one in Newton County, one in George County, one in Covington County, one in Jackson County and one in Wilkinson County. Turnipseed said at least three of those fatal accidents involved pedestrians.
"... There were just a lot of freak things," Turnipseed said. "We had two â€” one in Bolivar and one in Wilkinson â€” where people had broken down and gotten hit when they got out of their cars. Then we had a woman in Covington (County) who'd had a blowout. She was in her car, on the phone with 911 when an 18-wheeler topped the hill and hit her.
"It's been a long time since we've had this many," he added. "Usually Memorial Day is our worst (holiday). We had three fatals this year (statewide), and that's about average. Seven is pretty significant."
Turnipseed said as of Monday it was unclear if alcohol played a role in any of those fatalaties. Investigations remain ongoing.
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