Highway Patrol releases name of man who died in crash that injured state road worker

The Mississippi Highway Patrol has identified Larry J. Williams as the Lucedale man who died in a crash that critically injured a state road worker in Jackson County.

Williams, 66, was southbound on Mississippi 63 when his car struck the back of a parked bucket truck about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, MHP spokesman Chase Elkins said. The crash occurred near Mississippi 614.

A Mississippi Department of Transportation worker remained in critical condition Thursday, Elkins said.

The initial investigation shows the worker was outside the unoccupied MDOT truck and trying to get in the bucket when Williams lost control of his 2017 Nissan Sentra, Elkins said. Williams was not wearing a seat belt, he said.

The truck was on the right shoulder of the road and its emergency lights were on. The Nissan ran off the right side of the road and struck the back of the truck, Elkins said.

The MDOT employee, who was working on traffic signals, was thrown to the right side of the truck.

The worker is a 62-year-old Petal man. He was transported to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in critical condition. His name has not been released.

The injured man works on the traffic signal electrical crew, said MDOT District Engineer Kelly Castleberry, who knows him personally.

“He's a good worker, a very depend gentleman and a very nice man,” Castleberry said.

“All across the state, we have maintenance and construction employees out doing their jobs when they get injured from a crash. It happens more than we would like to have it happen.”

MDOT Executive Director Melinda L. McGrath, in a news release, said the agency’s “thoughts and prayers are with this employee and their family during this difficult time.

“Work zones can present unfamiliar traffic patterns for motorists,” McGrath said.

“It is critical for the traveling public to follow advance warning signs, slow down and remove driving distractions such as cellphones when traveling through highway work zones. Human lives are present and at risk every day when working on roads and bridges throughout the state.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews