Another Fatal Wreck on Hwy 49 South

NOVEMBER 19, 2006 -- POSTED AT 7:00 P.M. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- Police believe Saturday night's fatal wreck on Highway 49 South may be alcohol related.

It happened Saturday night around nine. 31 year old Melissa Hutchinson in her silver SUV had just pulled onto Highway 49 South from Gibson Switch, when 23 year old Miguel Chavez's red Chevy crossed the center line and crashed into her head-on. Chavez died at the scene. Melissa Hutchinson was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Corporal Tony Austin with the Arkansas State Police is investigating the cause.

"We did find alcohol in the vehicle so alcohol is being suspected in this accident. It would be the main factor," says Corp. Austin.

Alcohol was discovered inside Chavez's truck and police say this may be the reason he crossed the center line. This isn't the first deadly accident on Highway 49. Just 2 weeks ago, one person died just hundreds of yards away where a vehicle once again, crossed the center line and crashed head on into oncoming traffic.

"Take two vehicles at 55 miles per hour and add those together. It's a 110 mile an hour impact. You're going from 55 to 0 in just a matter of feet," says Corp. Austin.

Corporal Austin says Highway 49 South is a narrow 2-lane highway with lots of traffic and that's about to increase as the holiday season approaches and more motorists hit the roadways. He says his best advice for drivers wanting to stay safe would be to slow down and buckle up.

"Don't just depend on the airbag to save you. The last two accidents we had if their seatbelts had been worn, there's a possibility those two people would have been with us today," says Corp. Austin.

We spoke with the family of Melissa Hutchinson, the woman injured in the accident. She is pregnant, but luckily her family said she was just treated for minor injuries and was released Sunday.