A family outing to share Sunday morning breakfast ends in tragedy when a pick-up truck is broadsided by an 18-wheeler on Highway 45 North in Lowndes County.
According to Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant and the Mississippi Highway Patrol, 54-year-old Dorothy Bunton and her grandson, 10-year-old Raymond Matthew Karr, a fourth-grader at Caledonia Elementary, were killed just after 8:30 Sunday morning in an accident at the intersection of Highway 45 and Spurline Road north of Columbus.
Bunton’s husband, 51-year-old James Bunton, who was driving the 1997 Ford F-150 pick-up, is in stable condition at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, where he was airlifted from the scene.
Another grandson, 9-year-old Dakota Barnett, who is Karr’s cousin, is in critical condition at Children’s Medical Center in Jackson.
According to Merchant, the two youngsters spent Saturday night at their grandparents’ home on Downs Road near Columbus Air Force Base. They were on their way to Karr’s mother’s home on Ridge Road and were trying to cross eastbound from Land Road to Spurline Road when their pickup was struck by the 18-wheeler.
The driver of the truck, 56-year-old Jimmy McCostlin, of Vance, Ala., suffered minor injuries, according to the Highway Patrol.
“It was a family outing, they were going to do breakfast at one of the boys’ homes,” Merchant said.
Dorothy Bunton was sitting in the front passenger seat, Karr was in the rear driver’s side seat, and Barnett was in the rear passenger seat, Merchant said.
All four were wearing seat belts, according to MHP Master Sgt. Criss Turnipseed.
After the accident, Karr’s mother showed up at the Bunton’s residence looking for her son because they all were overdue for breakfast at her home. A Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office deputy who’d gone there to try to find relatives told her of the accident and took her back to her home to be with her husband until authorities could come speak with her. Her sister, Barnett’s mother, showed up there, Merchant said of how some of the family members were notified.
“It was tough, very difficult,” the veteran coroner said. “It’s difficult anytime, but when kids are involved, it’s even harder, very emotional.”