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Update: Driver faces felonies in crash that killed 3 youths, injured 3

The driver who fled the scene of a crash Saturday that led to the deaths of two children and a teenager has been arrested on felony charges, a state trooper said.

Jesse Edward Dickerson, 23, of Lucedale, was found Sunday and arrested on four counts of leaving the scene of a crash causing serious bodily injury or death, Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Chase Elkins said.

Those who died of their injures in the one-car crash were two girls, ages 6 and 9, and a male 16-year-old. Another child and a man were injured and a woman was critically injured.

A total of six passengers, all from Lucedale, were in the green 2003 Kia Optima and none was restrained when the vehicle crashed on Mississippi 198 about 3:45 p.m., Elkins said. The crash occurred east of Depot Road.

The names of the deceased were not available late Sunday afternoon.

Elkins initially reported an unidentified driver lost control of the car.

The Optima struck a sign on the property of Mississippi Furniture Warehouse, which was closed at the time, an employee contacted by telephone Sunday said.

Dickerson got out of the car and ran into woods, Elkins said.

The killed and injured

The 6-year-old, who was riding on the floor board in the back seat, was taken by ambulance to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, where she died. Elkins said.

The 9-year-old was in the back seat and was taken to George County Hospital, where she died.

A 16-year-old was in the front passenger seat; he died at the scene, Elkins said.

A 39-year-old woman, seated in the back of the Optima, was taken to USA and was listed in critical condition.

Also in the back seat were a 7-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man. They were treated at George County Hospital and released.

Initial investigation shows the Optima was eastbound when it went off the left side of the highway and collided with a sign on the north side of the highway.

The investigation continues, Elkins said.

Dickerson was being held at the George County jail with no bond pending an initial court appearance. Sheriff Keith Havard said it will be up to the MHP to release details of the case.

Where the seven were headed in the Optima — designed to seat five people — was not available.

A toxicology test is standard procedure for drivers after a crash resulting in death or serious injuries. It wasn’t immediately clear if Dickerson received a court-ordered test in spite of the lapse of time before his arrest.

He will be formally charged this week.

Dickerson faces four charges that are each punishable by five to 20 years in prison.

Under state law, children ages 4 through 6 should be restrained in a booster seat unless they weigh more than 65 pounds or are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Larger children, generally ages 7 to 12, must wear a seat belt.

Elkins declined to say if Dickerson was injured and if those involved in the crash are family members.

SunHerald.com will update this report as details develop.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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