A witness to the I-59 crash that killed three people in Pearl River County on Thanksgiving morning took to Facebook to describe the terror and helplessness — and to make a plea for changing laws after dodging death.
Kristy St. Germain Thompson, a real estate agent in Hattiesburg, called 911 when she and her husband avoided the wrong-way driver near the Poplarville exit around mid-morning.
Shelley Elizabeth Rose, 49, of Asheville, N.C., appeared to be on a “suicide mission” the Dodge Caravan she was driving the wrong way when she killed herself and two other drivers — Southern Miss student Jada Bright, 23, of Picayune and Evans Vincent, 45, of Albertville, Ala. Reports show that Rose bonded out of the Lauderdale County jail after being charged with felony DUI — her fourth drunk-driving charge — on Tuesday, then was released from the Jones County jail the next day after being charged with with public drunkenness by Ellisville police.
“I’ve experienced every emotion humanly possible ever since 10:23 am, Thanksgiving Day,” Thompson wrote. “The day we came face to face with Shelley Elizabeth Rose, as she headed straight for us, in our lane, northbound on the southbound lane of (Interstate) 59, near Exit 29 (Poplarville/Hwy 26 exit). I relive those terrifying moments, over and over again, every minute of the day, every time I get in a vehicle, every time I look at my girls, and every time I close my eyes to try to sleep, which has been non-existent ever since Thursday.”
The most overwhelming emotion, though, was the terror she felt for others after she and her family were safe.
“Once Jason pulled out of her way, I knew we were safe. I knew we were going to be ok,” Thompson wrote. “My adrenaline had kicked in the minute I saw her heading straight for us that my fingers were already dialing 911, which I cannot, to this day, figure out how. He had his focus on her and keeping us safe, I had my focus on where exactly we were so I could get help immediately to the people behind us.
“But that’s when it hit me. I couldn’t possibly keep anyone safe … How were cops suppose(d) to rush in and save the day like some scene from a movie when she’s flying down a (highway), the wrong way, on one of the busiest travel days of the year?”
That’s when she turned around, saw vehicles swerving, headlights flashing and cried: “People are going to die RIGHT NOW, Jason,” she recalled saying. “I knew at that very moment, she knew what she was doing. She never pumped (brakes), she never veered into emergency lane, she just ... kept ... driving. The only way this was going to end, was by someone taking her out, which meant, she was going to change the lives of innocent people.
“Helplessness. Hopelessness. Horror. THOSE are the STRONGEST emotions that overwhelmed me at 10:23 a.m., and continue to haunt me at 12 a.m. 5 days later. I’ve never understood Survivors Guilt. I guess that’s because I’ve never been put in a situation to experience it before. Until now.”
Thompson spoke to Bright’s sister-in-law Jennifer Posey-Bright on Saturday night.
Jada was “beautiful, smart” and had her life “ripped from her” three minutes “after our encounter, and my 911 call,” Thompson wrote. “Let that sit for a second ... It took Shelley only 3 minutes to get from where we first encountered her, near Exit 29, to Exit 39 (if the time of the collision was reported accurately).”
“Jennifer reached out to me because her and her family are in indescribable pain. They are searching for answers. Answers I wish I could give them. She heard we were one of the first to come in contact with Shelley. Through my tears, I told her in detail, everything we witnessed. I told her Jada most likely had absolutely no time to react. There was nothing Jada could have done to change what happened. Jada and Evans no doubt saved the lives of countless others that day, but at the ultimate expense.
“The system failed Jada and Evans Thanksgiving Day. The system robbed them of a future with their loved ones. But the system also failed Shelley Rose. Shelley should have been incarcerated … This woman obviously needed help. That’s a whole other topic in itself.
“The system’s flaws do not excuse, however, the fact that she, alone, decided to do what she did that day. Which in my opinion, was a suicide mission. But ‘the system’ could have, at least that day, prevented the deaths of Jada Bright, Evans Vincent, and yes, Shelley Rose.
“THE LAWS NEED TO CHANGE. Something GOOD MUST COME from this horrific tragedy. How many more need to die because of a lapse of communication, slow reporting or BS loopholes?”
Lt. Scott Wuertz of the Ellisville Police Department explained that the law allows for people who are charged with public drunkenness to be held for six hours before allowing them to post bond.
“God apparently wasn’t ready to call Jason or I home that day,” Thompson concluded. “I don’t know why our lives were spared and others weren’t as lucky. But I pray He finds a way to use me to make a difference somewhere, somehow. Because it’s the only way I know how I’ll find some sense of peace in all of this.”