Jennifer Stapel, an 18 year old college student at Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Community College, was driving herself and her friend, Brianna Medina, 19, back to the school’s Perkinston campus after a night spent watching a movie in Gulfport. After this, Stapel remembers nothing. Stapel woke up at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, suffering from a broken ankle and a total inability to recall the accident that landed her there.
The events that lead to Stapel’s hospitalization are as follows: on February 8, 2014, Elaina Spradley Skinner, a twenty three year old woman, was driving south in the northbound lane of U.S. 49 in Saucier, Mississippi. Her Honda Civic struck a Ford Taurus, but Skinner continued driving, colliding soon after with a Kia Rio at 1:37 a.m. Stapel was the driver of the Rio, carrying along with her friend Brianna Medina.
The Deputy Coroner pronounced Skinner dead at the scene, a result of blunt force trauma to the head and chest. The driver of the Taurus appeared uninjured, but the driver of the Rio, Jennifer Stapel and her passenger, Briana Medina, were both injured. Medina’s injuries were severe, while Stapel’s were deemed not life threatening.
Brianna Medina is still recovering from her extensive injuries. She suffered a cracked cheek bone, broken ankle, knee, and leg, lacerated diaphragm, injuries to her spleen and appendix, requiring removal of both, and a broken spine that has left her with no sensation in her legs. Medina has had four surgeries, including a six hour long surgery on her leg and spine. With Medina’s medical expenses mounting, her family has begin fundraising efforts for her care.
An investigation into the accident is ongoing, and a toxicology report of Elaina Skinner was ordered.
Jennifer Stapel has been released from the hospital and now anxiously awaits the recovery of her friend Brianna Medina. Meanwhile, the family of the recently married Elaina Skinner is mourning the loss of their loved one.
This tragic accidents illustrates the many possibly dangers that await drivers on Mississippi roadways. The following are a few tips designed to help drivers stay safe:
- Obey all speed limits and signs
- Wear your safety belt at all times
- Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Avoid driving at times when impaired drivers may be on the road, such as late at night
- Always use turn signals
- Stay vigilant—keep your eyes moving, notice what is happening on the sides of you and in the rear view mirror every few seconds
- Never drive distractedly—put away your mobile device, food, drink, or any other common distractions and focus on the roadway
- Drive defensively—expect other drivers to make mistakes and think of what you would do if that happens
- Drive with your headlights on at all time—a car is visible four times the distance with it’s headlights on
- Do a safety check before taking off—look for any leaks, check that all lights are operational, and tires are properly inflated
- Adjust all mirrors properly to avoid blind spots
- Never speed—leave early to allow yourself sufficient time to arrive at your destination so that you will not feel the need to speed
- Avoid the “no-zone” with trucks or buses—if you cannot see the driver, they cannot see you
- Wait out inclement weather
- Decrease your speed in the rain or snow
- Leave yourself plenty of braking room, and remember as your speed increases, so does your braking distance
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the zealous Mississippi Accident Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm can help. Giddens Law Firm has a proven track record of success for maximizing the recovery of our injured car accident clients. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to start us fighting for you.