Hancock County

Joby Bennett died saving life of woman who’s now fighting to walk again

Catrina Lucky
Catrina Lucky

Bay St. Louis resident Catrina Lucky recalls lying on the pavement, watching the brake lights from the car that just hit her disappear into the night.

“I can’t believe they just left me here. I can’t believe they just left me here to die,” she said.

Just before 11 p.m. Aug. 6, authorities with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi Highway Patrol and West Hancock Fire & Rescue responded to a car accident that led to the death of 19-year-old Joby Bennett and severely injured Lucky, 35, on the Cowan Bayou Bridge on U.S. 90 near the Louisiana line, officials said.

The Pearlington teen died instantly, Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said, and Lucky was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Bennett was laid to rest last week, just days before his 20th birthday.

More than a week after the accident, Lucky is still in a hospital bed. She suffered road rash, broken bones and the thought of never walking again.

“I still have nightmares from that night,” she said. “They don’t stop.”

She said she had just left a store and was walking to a friend’s house when she encountered Bennett that night.

“Joby stopped on the bridge and asked if I wanted a ride,” she said. “We laughed as I jokingly responded, ‘I don’t know, you gonna hurt me?’ ”

Bennett said “no” and laughed as well, she said. Shortly afterward, she said, tragedy struck.

“Joby got out of the truck and was trying to help me get my friend’s dog that was following,” Lucky said. “I call him Cujo.”

Bennett put down the tailgate on his truck and tried to get the dog to jump up in the back, she said.

“I told Joby, ‘I don’t know if he knows how to do that,’ “ she said, “so we tried to lift him up, and the next thing you know, I heard Joby holler.

“He tried to push me out of the way. I don’t know if he pushed me down on the ground or just out of the way, I can’t really remember, but he pushed me and I kinda felt a kick. I looked back and I could see the headlights.”

Police said the driver of a gold 2000 Toyota Camry swerved around Bennett’s truck, which was stopped in the road, and accidentally hit Bennett and Lucky, who were in the emergency lane.

No charges have been filed in the crash.

“I could see the car just coming full throttle, like not even trying to hit the brakes,” Lucky said, sounding frustrated.

Bennett was hit hard and thrown nearly a 100 feet, Faulk said. His body was found just at the end of the bridge over the railing, he said. The Camry sat more than 1,030 feet down the road in the Oak Harbor entrance, he said.

“I was surprised that someone turned themselves in,” Faulk said. “We initially thought it was a hit-and-run because the car couldn’t be seen anywhere around the accident scene. I was relieved when I found out someone had actually called in to dispatch.”

Lucky said she would have to undergo another major surgery. She said she has had several surgeries in an attempt to save her leg.

Last week, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said authorities were wrapping up the investigation into the accident. However, Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said his officers are “looking into” the matter.

“The highway patrolmen did what they do,” Adam said. “We have gotten several leads from the public, so we are going to be following up on those. There’s not a full-scale investigation, but when we have calls from the public because they don’t believe some things were addressed, then we will look into it and see what we can find and that’s where we stand now.”

Lucky said doctors do expect her to walk again, but it will be a long road to her recovery.