A woman in an SUV with a 9-month-old baby led law enforcement officers on a pursuit that ended with a crash Saturday morning at one of the city’s busiest intersections.
The woman, Celeste Williams, 23 of Ocean Springs, was arrested on charges of child endangerment and driving a stolen vehicle, Capt. Rickey Jones of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday. He said she was turned over to Ocean Springs police, who also cited her for traffic violations.
Witnesses told the Sun Herald on Sunday that an elderly man in the vehicle she struck, also an SUV, had cuts on his head and was taken away by ambulance.
Jones said a deputy initially pulled over Williams in St. Martin because she was wanted by Ocean Springs police for allegedly driving a stolen vehicle and child endangerment. He said Williams refused to get out of her SUV. The deputy used a stun gun on her, Jones said, but she still managed to drive off.
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The deputy pursued her on U.S. 90, where more patrol cars joined in.
Dick McGill, who lives near Fairhope, Ala., said he was in South Mississippi with his wife and 10-year-old daughter for a tennis tournament. They were taking a break to stroll around downtown Ocean Springs and visit a toy store.
He was stopped at the traffic light at U.S. 90 and Washington Avenue when he looked in his rear view mirror and saw blue sirens coming over the bridge into town. He assumed the SUV at the front of the pack was an unmarked police vehicle, but then realized it was about to run into him and his family.
McGill said he nudged his car onto a cement island where the traffic light was planted.
He watched the speeding SUV T-bone the elderly man’s vehicle. The man’s SUV flew onto the shoulder at the intersection’s southwest corner.
“I felt like this type of chase through that kind of traffic, and headed in the direction that it was headed . . . I felt like it was an unnecessary risk,” McGill said. “ I feel like any person would realize this kind of chase would end with an injury to an innocent person or a crash.
“There's no question about it. I just felt like they should have fallen back. I think it was an unwise decision to continue that chase, unless that lady they were chasing was some kind of huge risk to society.”
Jones, however, said officers had backed off the pursuit before they reached the busy intersection. He said Williams was trying to maneuver around traffic at the red light when she caused the accident.
After the accident, convenience store employee Beverly Slaton said she watched a deputy pull the 9-month-old baby and a car seat from Williams’ SUV.