Kristy May Pate and a friend had finished attending Cruisin’ The Coast festivities and were bound for New Orleans when she offered to switch seats with the driver, relatives said.
The driver was sleepy, so he pulled over on Mississippi 603 near Interstate 10. She was on the side of the road, about to get in the driver’s seat, when she was hit by a vehicle driven by an alleged drunken driver, family said.
Pate was airlifted to Hancock Medical Center and then airlifted to University Medical Center in New Orleans, where she was declared brain-dead, said Amy May, her sister-in-law. Her injuries included a detached ankle and a catastrophic brain injury, which claimed her life.
“The other driver sideswiped her into her car,” May said.
Pate was from Picayune but was living in Pass Christian, police said.
Her family blames the allegedly impaired driver for taking her life.
“I want that driver held accountable for killing my cousin,” Ray Hart said.
The crash occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday, Bay St. Louis Deputy Police Chief Alvin Kingston said.
Pate had been in a 2012 Toyota Camry that was stopped on Mississippi 603, facing south in the southbound right-hand lane, and she and the driver reportedly were switching seats, Kingston said.
A southbound 2013 Ford F150, driven by 30-year-old Shane Hicks, hit the driver’s side of the car, also striking Pate as she was getting in the driver’s seat, he said. The truck’s speed has not been determined, Kingston said.
Bay police called for a DUI officer from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and turned the case over to sheriff’s investigators.
Deputies arrested Hicks, of Bay St. Louis, on a misdemeanor charge of DUI first offense. Hicks was released from the county jail shortly afterward on a $500 bond.
Sheriff Ricky Adam on Tuesday said his investigators plan to upgrade Hicks’ charge to DUI resulting in death.
“By the time my DUI officer got there, the victim had already been life-flighted,” Adam said.
“(Hicks) refused to take a Breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test so our DUI officer went to a judge and got a court order to draw his blood.”
Justice Court Judge Desmond Hoda was on the bench Tuesday. Adam said investigators would be asking for an arrest warrant for Hicks on the felony charge.
“He has an attorney and his attorney has been in touch with the court,” Adam said. “I believe he will turn himself in once we get the warrant.”
The results of a blood alcohol-content test have not been released.
The penalty for an aggravated DUI charge is 5 to 25 years in prison.
She was a mother
May said Pate was the mother of two boys ages 12 and 16, and was known for making others smile and laugh.
“Her smile was infections,” May said.
“She had a heart of gold and would give her shirt off her back to anyone who needed it.”
Pate was an organ donor who gave her heart to help someone else live, May said.