Teacher killed in River Thames Road crash - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Teacher killed in River Thames Road crash

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By Howard Ballou  - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -  A private-school teacher from Jackson is dead and a 19-year-old Jackson man slightly injured after a collision in north Jackson. 

It happened at 5350 River Thames Road near Old Canton Road around 4:08 Tuesday afternoon. Martha Smith watched in stunned silence as workers cleared the wreckage from her front yard. 

"First, I heard a loud cannon sound," Smith said. "I was inside the house and I heard this horrible, horrible sound that I've heard before." 

That sound was a gray Toyota Tundra slamming into a white Toyota Camry with such force that it backed the Camry up a tree, flipping the truck onto its side. Emergency crews had to use the "Jaws of Life" to pull Leigh Anne Ward, 35, from her car. Ward was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center. 

"This is just horrible," Smith said, "and for a woman to lose her life in my yard just going home from school is the most horrendous thing I can think of." 

Witnesses say Ward, a Madison Ridgeland Academy computer teacher, was on her way to pick up her father, a retired doctor, for a birthday celebration. The speed limit along River Thames Road is only 25 miles per hour. Witnesses say the 19-year-old, whose name has not been released, was driving the truck much faster than the speed limit. 

Smith says she's not surprised.

"They speed on this street all the time," she said. "This street is a major thoroughfare from Old Canton to Ridgewood, and they really let it all fly. And this boy was going very fast."

Referring to the heavily damaged trees in her yard, Smith said, "If these Crepe Myrtles hadn't been here, I might be dead." 

Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green says the 19-year-old was taken to UMC for observation and he is facing possible criminal charges. Accident reconstructionists are aiding in the investigation.

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