PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — Sardis city officials identified the police officer involved in a deadly head-on collision that killed a Panola County mother and sent a the officer to the hospital.
Officer Alex Aikens is scheduled for surgery Wednesday, Sardis' police chief said.
The crash killed 32-year-old Ericka Hughes. She was a mother of four, daughter and friend.
Sardis Police Chief Steve McLarty spoke with us about the moments leading up to the horrific head-on crash. He says at 8:06 p.m. Monday the officer involved in the crash called in a motorcycle pursuit. Just a minute-and-a-half later, the chief says the officer called back to report he had been in a crash and needed help.
Witnesses say they heard a loud, "boom." "All you saw was glass and debris. And you saw that car, the police officer's car and she was just there," C. L. Sparks said.
Police are investigating what happened with the pursuit and why the officer was chasing the motorcycle. It's believed a dash cam was mounted in the patrol car, and investigators are trying to determine if it captured video of the crash.
Some believe the crash was avoidable. "I believe that this was a high-speed pursuit at a busy intersection for maybe a misdemeanor crime, and it's not worth a life," Sparks said.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol is leading the investigation. A reconstruction unit will be at the crash site on Wednesday. It could take up to a week before the report is completed.
We've requested a copy of the department's chase policy. The chief says it will be provided once their investigation is done.