DeSoto County deputy struck by car, injured on I-269; woman charged with DUI

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Katherine Harris via DCSO

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — A DeSoto County deputy was struck by a car and badly injured as he was helping drivers on I-269 Friday night.

The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office said the deputy was hit in the eastbound lane just east of the Laughter road exit around 8:30 p.m.

“Very, very tragic accident that happened tonight,” Sheriff Bill Rasco, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, said.

There was debris in the roadway, and the deputy was assisting drivers while helping change a tire, the sheriff’s office said.

“Several vehicles that had hit something in the roadway,” Rasco said. “All had flat fires (and) they were in the side of the road. “A vehicle hit him, pinned him between his vehicle and her vehicle.”

The deputy suffered injuries to both legs and was airlifted to Regional One. Authorities are investigating.

Fortunately backup was close by, which the sheriff said may have made the difference between life or death.

DeSoto County officials said Saturday that Katherine Harris of Memphis was the driver in Friday night’s incident, where a DeSoto County deputy was struck by a car. Harris is charged with DUI-serious injury

“One of our own deputies probably saved his life tonight by putting a tourniquet in his leg. He probably would have bled to death,” Rasco said.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol will work to figure out exactly what happened. Meanwhile, the sheriff says this stands as a stark reminder of the dangers law enforcement face daily. 

“Every day or every night that our officers leave their house, we always hope they will return. At least he will survive this and move on from that,” Rasco said.

DeSoto County deputy Austin Eldridge (photo via DCSO)

Eldridge is now on the road to recovery after being hit by a car while on duty Friday night.

“It’s quite frankly carnage. There’s just no other way to describe it,” John Champion, DeSoto Co. District Attorney, said. “There was a lot of heroes last night that saved this officer’s life.”

Deputies say she was under the influence and now she’s charged with DUI involving serious injury.

Harris is being held without bond in the Tate County Jail.

“I don’t think she went out to drive last night to hit a deputy to hurt him but the fact is she had been drinking and this is what happens,” Champion said.

DeSoto County Chief Deputy Justin Smith added, “Drunk driving or driving while impaired is not a victimless crime, and this is something that has rattled our department and rattled our community to the core.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the deputy’s family. You can access that by clicking here.

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