Two young college students are working hard to recover from an accident that left another young driver dead earlier this month in southern Mississippi. Officials say the accident was a head-on collision, a notoriously dangerous type of accident that frequently proves fatal.
According to law enforcement authorities, 18-year-old Jennifer Stapel was driving herself a friend back to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after catching a movie. Tragically, that’s the last thing Stapel remembers. Stapel suffered serious injuries in the crash, including memory loss, but her passenger, 19-year-old Brianna Medina, faced even worse trouble. Medina suffered life-threatening injuries and remains in critical condition.
Medina suffered a lacerated diaphragm, a fracture cheek bone, broken ankle, leg and knee, internal organ damage and currently has no feeling in her legs due to a broken spine. So far Medina has undergone four surgeries to repair damage and her family hopes that she is eventually able to recover. They understand that the road to recovery will likely be a long one, and they say they are taking it one day at a time.
The driver of the other vehicle, 23-year-old Elaina Skinner, died due to the force of the accident. Police officers say that the wreck happened around 1:30 a.m. when Skinner was driving south in a northbound lane of U.S. 49 in Saucier, MS. Skinner’s Honda Civic then slammed head-on into the Kia Rio being driven by Stapel. Police say they are continuing to investigate the accident and are trying to understand what may have caused Skinner to drive the wrong way down U.S. 49.
The case is the latest in a long line of wrong-way collisions to occur across the country. Federal data shows about 350 people die each year as a result of wrong-way crashes, a terrible shame given how easily prevented many wrong-way collisions are.
The NTSB estimates that around three percent of all accidents on the interstate are linked to wrong-way driving. Not only are these crashes common, but they are also often fatal, with substantially higher fatality rates than other types of accidents. Experts believe that the speed at which the accidents occur and the likelihood that they will be head-on account for much of the danger.
Though wrong-way accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including disorientation due to medication or a medical condition, it’s unfortunately the case that many simply involve drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to a study conducted by the NTSB, more than two-thirds of all wrong-way accidents involve impaired drivers, the majority of whom were found to have BAC levels greater than 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in Mississippi.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at 601-707-4669.
Source: “South Mississippi women recovering after head-on car crash,” by Christina Steube, published at SunHerald.com.
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