Teacher struck by hit-and-run driver after leaving her baby shower, unborn child killed

Courtesy of New York Post: [https://nypost.com/2020/01/08/teachers-unborn-baby-killed-in-hit-and-run-after-leaving-her-baby-shower/]

January 08 del 2020


A 24-year-old Mississippi teacher lost her unborn baby eight months into her pregnancy after she was hit by a driver with a history of DUIs while driving home from her baby shower, and the driver promptly fled the scene and left the woman “fighting for her life,” according to police.

Mashayla Harper was found lying along the side of a roadway after her Honda Accord was struck head-on by a 2005 Nissan Titan just before 6 p.m. Saturday. She was transported to a hospital in critical condition, Sgt. J.D. Carter of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department said.

Harper, a fourth-grade teacher, had been celebrating the upcoming arrival of her first child with family and friends in Soso, Mississippi, on Saturday when her car was struck by the vehicle. The driver, 33-year-old James Gilbert, fled the scene on foot, according to The Laurel Leader-Call.

Gilbert was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused death or injuries and is being detained on a $100,000 bond. The charge could increase after the results of an impending blood test are released, District Attorney Tony Buckley said.

Gilbert admitted he had been drinking and a small amount of marijuana was found inside the vehicle.

“I was scared,” Gilbert, himself a father of two, told the Leader-Call when asked why he fled the scene. “I’m very sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Gilbert was arrested hours after the accident when the newly elected sheriff, Joe Berlin, called Gilbert’s wife and convinced her to contact him and urge him to “do the right thing,” and turn himself in, the Leader-Call reported.

“I’m glad he came clean about it,” Carter told the publication.

Gilbert has at least three DUI convictions since 2008 and was convicted of felony DUI and possession of methamphetamine in 2015.

“This one is more egregious because the suspect knew he struck someone and caused life-threatening injuries,” Buckley said. “[Gilbert] truly fled.”

When the affidavit was read in court explaining that Harper “lost her unborn child,” Gilbert and his family members began to cry.

Gilbert told the judge he and his wife have two daughters and that he works in construction.

Harper was transferred to another hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. Doctors officially upgraded her condition from critical to stable.

“To see our baby go from this being the happiest day of her life to I.C.U. in a matter of minutes was a complete tragedy. That idiot hit her head-on and left her out there on that road to die,” Harper’s father, Maurice Pruitt Sr., posted to Facebook. “Thanks to everyone that’s praying and has called to check on the status of Mashayla… She’s a very strong woman and she continues to fight for her life.”

“I have looked at this picture 1,000 times praying that it wouldn’t be anything more than a beautiful picture of us,” another family member, Alondria Hampton, posted to Instagram, along with a photo of herself, Harper and another guest. “We were supposed to be talking about the baby shower right now not visiting you in ICU.”

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