One dead on Highway 6

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2008

(Editor’s note: Batesville police are seeking witnesses who saw the four vehicle accident shortly before noon Friday. Specifically, they are seeking anyone who saw “what happened immediately before the truck overturned,” BPD Lieutenant John Miller said. Miller can be reached at the police department, 563-5653).

By John Howell

Emergency workers and many bystanders shared common burdens in the aftermath of Friday’s midday collision on Highway 6.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

They know each other’s pickups in Batesville. Even if they did not, a pickup with the conspicuous “Panola County Emergency Management” lettering narrowed considerably guesses about the victim’s identity.

They also knew that there was no chance that the victim in the pickup could have survived the rolling hardwood logs that had so thoroughly crushed his vehicle underneath.

Word passed quickly among responders and bystanders alike that it was indeed “Son” — Panola County Emergency Operations Director William “Son” Hudson. Every fire fighter, law enforcement officer and other first responder there knew Son.

It was personal.

Those first to reach the wreckage leaned under the logs and called his name. Firemen with chain saws then arrived and began to cut away the logs one at time, trying to reach the wreckage underneath. Finally workers wrapped a sling around the nine or so remaining logs and a large wrecker raised the logs enough to allow them to free the pickup and recover the body.

Charlie and Janice Dulaney were leaving East Oaks Shopping Center when they saw the log truck. It looked as though it was attempting to turn, she said, and suddenly it appeared “to be airborne.”

Bob Greene, a CNN reporter lodging in Batesville to cover the Oxford Presidential Debate, has walked along Highway 6 daily for exercise, he said.

Greene had walked into the East Oaks Shopping Center to lengthen his route and heard what he thought was a “fender bender,” he said.

When he looked up, he saw the logs rolling off their carrier. “It looked like slow motion,” Greene said.

The Batesville Police Department’s investigation is incomplete. Police Chief Tony Jones said that a 2003 Nissan Exterra driven by Charles Ray Nix of Batesville and a 2001 Chevy Tahoe driven by Lashond Osborn of Sardis “were nose-to-nose in the turn lane” between the entrance to East Oaks Shopping Center on the south side of Highway 6 and Wendy’s entrance on the north side.

The log truck was traveling west and Hudson was driving east, Lt. Miller said.

The police department received the call at 11:52 a.m. Highway 6 was closed until 3:15 and closed intermittently afterwards.

Buses carrying presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain and their entourages passed to the east of the accident scene as they made their way from the Memphis airport to Oxford, the police chief said.

Son Hudson had been appointed Panola County Civil Defense Director in January, 1994 and within just a few weeks was faced with the devastating Ice Storm of 1994. Most of the county’s electrical distribution system was destroyed and most rural roads were blocked with piles of broken limbs and trees.