An eight months-pregnant teacher lost her baby after being stuck by a hit-and-run driver on the way home from her baby shower.
Mashayla Harper, 24, was struck by the driver – suspected of being James Gilbert, 33, – as she drove home through through Laurel, Mississippi, on Saturday. The elementary school teacher’s Honda Accord collided with a Nissan Titan, with Gilbert reportedly fleeing on foot after the crash. Harper was rushed to South Central Regional Hospital in a critical condition, where she lost her baby girl. She has later been transferred to Forrest General Hospital, where her condition is said to be slowly improving.
Gilbert, who was previously arrested for DUI, reportedly admitted drinking before the crash. A small quantity of weed was also found in his wrecked truck, the Laurel Leader Call reported.
Asked by a reported from the paper why he’d fled at court Monday, Gilbert said: ‘I was scared, I’m very sorry. I’m so sorry.’ Gilbert handed himself in after Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin called the suspect’s wife and asked him to ‘do the right thing.’
He and his relatives sobbed during a court appearance Monday as the court heard how Harper ‘lost her unborn child.’ Gilbert has so far been charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused death or injuries. The married father of two is being held at Jones County Adult Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 bond, and could face more serious charges when toxicology reports come back.
Harper’s dad Maurice Pruitt Sr posted a harrowing status on Facebook detailing his daughter’s ordeal. It said:
‘To see our baby go from this being the happiest day of her life to ICU 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. We are grateful for the individual that happened to be in the area hunting to come to her aid, otherwise we may not be sitting in ICU praying as she fight for her life. And it really touched me when I read Laurel Leader Call post and how the Soso community jumped into action spreading the word about the man being in the area on foot … some even going out looking for him. Thanks to everyone that’s praying and has called to check on the status of Mashayla Harper… She’s a very strong woman and she continue to fight for her life.’