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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gone Fishin' In MS

Here's the story from The Commercial Dispatch:
STARKVILLE — Dozens of Oktibbeha County residents gathered Tuesday morning at the intersection of Highway 82 and Douglastown Road with their coolers in tow as work crews cleaned up the remains of an overturned catfish truck in the median.

Bill Baker, of Eupora, was driving the B&B Farms truck westbound on Highway 82 shortly after 6 a.m. when he lost control, went into the median and hit a culvert. The overturned truck spilled thousands of catfish throughout the muddy area between the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Residents from nearby homes showed up with their coolers while police and emergency personnel responded to the scene. Dozens of people left with coolers full of fish before Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers made residents leave the median so workers from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and Starkville-based Bulldog Towing could clear the scene.

Baker suffered a contusion to his head and a cut to his back, was treated at North Mississippi Medical Center in Eupora, and returned to the site a short time later. He said he wasn't sure what caused him to veer off the highway, but does remember feeling alarmed as his truck headed into the median.

"I remember seeing that hole right there," Baker said looking down at the culvert and the remains of his load. "It will make you have a conversation with the good Lord."

Baker, who said he was still "a little dazed" three hours after the crash, was just glad nobody else was injured in the wreck.

Meanwhile, employees from Bulldog Towing pulled the truck from the rain-soaked median and MDOT workers removed catfish from the overturned containers, then tossed them into coolers, trash cans and other bins. Many of the fish were still alive.

Stewart Teague, owner of Bulldog Towing, said his company was been giving away the salvaged catfish to some of the responders at the scene, local firefighters, businesses and friends, "so they don't go to waste." He didn't mind letting local residents gather fish from the median for their own families.

"It was unbelievable how much they got," Teague said.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer Brian Mobley said.

Mobley and other Highway Patrol troopers were directing traffic past the wreck Tuesday morning via one eastbound and one westbound lane. The Department of Environmental Quality also sent workers to clean up the fuel spill at the scene.

Tim Pratt is the Starkville Bureau Reporter for The Commercial Dispatch.

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