A Justice Court judge Monday set bond at $1 million for a Lucedale man held on four counts of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death.
Jesse Edward Dickerson, 23, ran away from the scene of a single-car crash Saturday that resulted in the deaths of two children and a teenager, and critical injuries for another passenger.
Dickerson was arrested Sunday on the four counts. He is being held at the George County jail but is expected to transfer to the Jackson County jail.
Deputies had to carry Dickerson into the courtroom because his left leg is broken. On the way in, he said he was thrown from the vehicle that night.
“All I remember is waking up in the woods,” he said when asked why he ran.
During his initial appearance, Dickerson was hunched over and crying and asked to be taken off suicide watch. “I’m not going to commit suicide,” he said.
He also said he loved all the people — seven total — who were in the Kia Optima when the wreck occurred about 3:45 p.m. on Mississippi 198 just east of Depot Road.
The passengers who died are Sierra Jean Dixon, 7, Terra Dixon, 9, and Spencer Harvard, 16, said Chase Elkins, spokesman for Mississippi Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash. All three are from Lucedale.
Also in the car were Jody Baxter, 21; Demi Ferguson, 7, and Jackie Dixon, 39. Baxter and Ferguson were treated and released. Dixon was taken to University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile in critical condition, according to Elkins.
None were wearing seat belts.
The dead and injured
The crash happened after Dickerson apparently lost control of the car and slammed into a sign on the property of Mississippi Furniture Warehouse. Dickerson, though also reportedly injured, jumped out the vehicle and ran into a wooded area.
At the time of impact, Sierra Dixon was on the backseat floorboard and died at USA Medical Center, Elkins said. Terra Dixon was in the back seat and died at George County Hospital.
The Dixon girls loved to fish, go to church and play with animals, their obituary said.
Spencer Havard was in the front passenger seat and died at the scene. His family described him as “a good-hearted young man” who could catch a fish by hand and loved to hunt.
The results of toxicology tests are pending, though Dickerson wasn’t in custody until the following day.
If convicted on each charge, Dickerson could go to prison for up 80 years.
The owners of Mississippi Furniture Warehouse had closed their business for the day, but returned after learning of the crash. The car was crushed and the owners at first didn’t know how many people were killed or injured, but said state troopers told them the driver had fled.
“When we got there, we saw an entire community of first responders working together,” said Stacy Hammac Graham, who owns the Lucedale warehouse with her mother, Gloria Holcomb.
We did not know the victims personally, but have spoken with several people in passing who did, and all have said that the children were very sweet,” Graham said.
The women said they were touched by the compassion and professionalism of all who turned out to help.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all of the victims involved, and we are so grateful for the overwhelming number of law enforcement officers and first responders, including volunteers, who have gone above and beyond to help those involved in this horrible tragedy,” she and her mother said in an email.
Another woman, Holly Stokely, drove up on the accident a minute or two after it happened.
“We stopped and asked if they needed help,” she said. One of the surviving children asked her to call his parents.
She stayed with a 7-year-old girl who had been ejected from the car until help arrived.
“I just kept holding on to her,” the mother of two said. “It left me really shaken. I haven’t been the same since this happened.”
Staff writer Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.