Woman faces DUI charge in state park crash that injured child

Norma Jean Harter
Norma Jean Harter

A 70-year-old woman was arrested Saturday for driving impaired at Buccaneer State Park, where she struck a parked state vehicle and injured a 7-year-old girl, officials said.

Waveland Police Chief David Allen said police and Hancock County sheriff’s deputies responded to the park off U.S. 90 around 10 p.m. Saturday after receiving a call that a child had been hit by a car.

Officers determined Norma Jean Harter, of Carriere, was driving under the influence when she drove into another vehicle, Allen said.

The child was injured while Harter was backing up, and it appears Harter may have been trying to leave the scene of the wreck when she hit the child, he said.

The girl was taken to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport and was treated for minor injuries. She was released from the hospital late Saturday night, Allen said.

Harter was arrested by sheriff’s deputies and taken to Hancock County jail, where she was held on a $50,000 bond.

She faces a charge of driving under the influence causing mutilation, disfigurement or death. Elements of the alleged crime fall under that statute, Chief Deputy Don Bass said.

Bass said it is his understanding that Harter did not strike the child, but the child was struck by the vehicle that Harter struck.

“Waveland worked the accident and we are working the investigation,” Bass said.

Sun Herald staff writer Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @JustinMitchell_