Intersection where two accidents happened on same day under review

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

MANILA, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Highway Department of Transportation told Region 8 News Wednesday it will review police reports from Arkansas State Police and the Manila Police Department in connection with two accidents at the intersection of Highway 77 and Fleeman Street. According to District Engineer Walter McMillan, the highway department may send traffic investigators to Mississippi County in the coming months. At issue is the safety of the intersection.

"Normally when accidents occur on the state highway, especially ones having a fatality, we will receive a copy of the police report," said McMillan. "At that time we will take a look at it and see if there's something we think we can do to improve the safety or we might send it to our maintenance division in Little Rock. They have traffic investigators."

According to 2008's traffic report, 2,400 vehicles travel down Highway 77 in Manila each day. More than 1,800 vehicles travel down Fleeman Street per day.

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"When they go out, they look at traffic counts. They go into a pretty detailed investigation. They look at speed limits to see what traffic is actually traveling, to see if it's actually the posted speed limit," said McMillan.

Arkansas State Police told Region 8 News Wednesday the investigation into Tuesday's fatal accident with a state trooper is under investigation. Initial reports suggest Vickie Lynn Freemyer, 52, Blytheville, pulled into the path of the trooper's car as it traveled south on Highway 77. Freemyer was killed in the accident. The trooper, Andrew Rhew, was released from a local hospital.

In a statement released by Colonel Winford Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police, police are praying for both families involved.

It's not yet known if the officer was responding to a call, had blue lights on or how fast either vehicle was traveling.

Investigators with Arkansas State Police were out Wednesday morning.

McMillan said there are several options the highway department has to prevent future accidents.

"One is a cross traffic does not stop sign, maybe putting up a larger stop ahead or stop sign that makes them more visible. Maybe a stop bar on the pavement at the stop sign," said McMillan. "When you have a stop sign coming into a highway that has the right of way, there's always a case of an accident occurring where people just don't seem to pick up the traffic coming down the road."

The Manila Police Department is investigating another accident. According to police, a semi-truck loaded with soybeans was turning onto Highway 77 from Fleeman Street. Police said a truck pulled into the path of the semi, forcing the semi to swerve and crash into a ditch. No one was severely injured in that accident.

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