BILOXI -- State troopers investigated 221 collisions that killed four people and injured 73 over the holiday weekend, resulting in Mississippi's deadliest Thanksgiving weekend in at least five years.
Victims in the fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts in single-vehicle collisions when they ran off a highway, and three were ejected, said Mississippi Highway Patrol Capt. Johnny Poulos.
In last year's holiday period, 179 crashes killed three people and injured 56.
South Mississippi's fatal crash over the weekend occurred in George County about 5:55 p.m. Saturday on U.S. 98.
Poulos said Curtis R. Baxter, 44, of Semmes, was westbound when the 2000 Ford Focus he was driving left the highway and overturned several times. Baxter was ejected and died at the scene.
The other fatal crashes also occurred Saturday, Poulos said.
Robert H. Batie, 61, of Ripley, died while travelling on Mississippi 2.
Cathy Y. Steed, 54, of Ethel, died while travelling on Mississippi 14 in Attala County.
Ray A. Morrow, 18, of Carthage, died while travelling on Mississippi 488 in Leake County.
Steed and Morrow were ejected, Poulos said.
Wearing a seat belt increases the chance of survival, Poulos said, noting the short time it takes to buckle up can save families from a lifetime of grief.
State troopers found most people restrained. The MHP's holiday traffic safety report shows state troopers issued 83 seat belt citations and 18 child-restraint citations, compared with 119 seat belt violations and 32 child-restraint tickets over last year's Thanksgiving weekend.
State troopers issued a total of 6,198 citations, compared with 5,823 in the previous holiday period. This year's citations included 4,273 hazardous violations and 1,683 non-hazardous violations.
DUI arrests were down, decreasing from 150 over last year's holiday weekend to 121 DUI arrests.
State troopers assigned to Troop K, based in Biloxi, investigated 31 collisions that killed one person and injured 17. They made 15 DUI arrests and found only two people travelling unrestrained.
The MHP's traffic safety campaign began at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ended at midnight Sunday.
South Mississippi's worst traffic snarls occurred Sunday in westbound lanes of Interstate 10 near the state line in Hancock County, requiring state troopers to divert traffic. Traffic was stalled for more than 12 hours after back-to-back crashes with injuries. At one point, traffic was backed up 14 miles to the Diamondhead exit.
A FedEx tractor-trailer ran off I-10 about 6:40 a.m. One westbound lane had been re-opened for travel about seven hours later when a tanker truck carrying hazardous materials ran off a westbound lane about half a mile from the other accident. A HAZMAT crew responded but found no leaks.