The Sunday after Thanksgiving traditionally is the busiest travel day of the year and for the Mississippi Highway Patrol and drivers on I-10 it was one of the worst travel days of the year.
Highway Patrol responded to four fatal single-vehicle accidents overnight, including one in George County.
Cpl. Benjamin Seibert with MHP said Curtis Randall Baxter, 44, of Semmes, Ala., was driving a 2004 Ford Focus westbound on Mississippi 98 when he went off the north side of the road and rolled several times.
Baxter was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected, Seibert said. He died at the scene.
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At least three out of the four drivers in the fatal accidents were not wearing a seat belt and were ejected,
"Something as simple as a seat belt," he said.
I-10 became a parking lot at times on Sunday, beginning at 6:40 a.m., when a FedEx tractor trailer ran off the road into the median and overturned at Exit 2 westbound near Stennis Space Center.
A Life Flight was requested but could not respond because of weather conditions.
The driver, Dwight Miska, 55, of West Jordan, Utah, was transported by AMR to a hospital in Louisiana with life-threatening injuries.
Seibert said at one point Sunday morning westbound traffic was backed up for 14 miles to the Diamondhead exit.
"Rubbbernecking combined with the heavy amount of holiday traffic has made the area extremely congested," Seibert said.
"We just have so much traffic," he said. With many drivers from out of state returning home after the Thanksgiving holiday, "We're doing the best we can to get all this traffic moving," he said.
Then around 1:30 p.m., a tanker truck carrying hazardous materials left the road and hit several trees in the median. It happened just half a mile after the driver passed the site of the first accident in Hancock County, where crews were finishing off-loading the contents of the overturned truck onto another truck. A HAZMAT crew responded and the westbound lanes of I-10 when it was feared hazardous materials were leaking from the tanker truck.
There was no leak, but Seibert said another truck had to be brought in to off-load the hazardous materials.
Traffic was diverted for a time at Exit 13, south to Mississippi 43 and west on U.S. 90.
Meanwhile, in Jackson County on Sunday afternoon, emergency personnel responded to an accident with injuries on I-10 eastbound at Vancleave Exit 57 and another accident near Gautier exit 61 eastbound that quickly was cleared.
And near Lakeshore a Hancock County deputy was in stable condition late Sunday afternoon after he flipped in his patrol car while trying to avoid an accident.
Assistant Sheriff Don Bass said the accident happened on U.S. 90. A vehicle pulled out in front of the patrol car and Bass said when the officer tried to avoid hitting the vehicle, he rolled the patrol car a few times and landed in the median. The officer was taken to Gulfport Memorial and both he and the other driver were in stable condition, Bass said.