Emily Williams, 16, from Wiggins, Mississippi, is currently recovering from multiple injuries, including a broken leg, a broken wrist and a torn colon — and yet, she is thankful to be alive after a haunting accident that took place last week.
After massive rain resulting from Hurricane Ida hit Lucedale, Mississippi, on Monday, a section of Highway 26 collapsed in the night: The ground simply opened up, eating into both lanes of traffic, on a stretch of rural road that had no lights.
Emily and her mother, Amanda Williams, were the first ones to drive into the sinkhole, but they weren’t the last.
“I saw a big hole, then I blacked out and I woke up and my mom was leaned over towards me,” Emily told WLOX-TV from the hospital. “And she was … she was choking on her blood and she couldn’t breathe or anything.”
After propping her mother’s head up, Emily realized that this was just the beginning of the horror they were going to face as car after car began to drive blindly into the void — a total of seven cars from both directions plunged into the sinkhole.
“I remember hearing a car coming and then I heard a crash and I heard a engine going from a car because it was on top of us,” she continued. “It didn’t really move us really much, but then I heard screeching of another car’s tires. And it … I heard people screaming and then it crashed.
“All honesty, I was ready to give up. I was like, ‘We’re not going to make it out here. Nobody’s going to find us. Everybody is just going to keep piling in.'”
Eventually, her hope was renewed when she heard her father, who’d arrived on the scene, yelling to them. She said once she knew he was there, she knew they’d be saved.
At around 4:00 a.m., the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop K posted a heartbreaking update.
“State Troopers along with various other agencies are at the scene of a road collapse in George County, MS on Highway 26 near Crossroads Road,” the post read. “There were two fatalities and ten injuries, three of those injuries are critical.
“While we are still in the early stages of this investigation, motorists can expect Highway 26 to be closed at this location until further notice. The Mississippi Department of Transportation will assess the damages and make a determination as to when the roadway will reopen for travel.”
Cranes had to be used to lift the cars up and out of the gaping hole that had suddenly appeared in the middle of the highway. The adjusted final count was two deaths and nine injuries — which is why Emily is glad to be alive.
Amanda, 39, is in the ICU, sedated. But both of their lives could have been snuffed out immediately if the cars after them had landed even a little differently.
Layla Jamison, a George County High senior who is also in the hospital now, landed on the Williams’ truck — but according to her aunt, Shanna Bordelon, she somehow avoided the truck’s cab.
“If you look at the picture of that pile-up, specifically where Emily and Amanda — where their truck landed — something as simple as the speed of the car behind them, or had they not stopped, it — it really could have changed their fate,” Bordelon said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.