DeSoto County deputy remains in hospital, suspect charged with DUI

DeSoto County deputy in critical condition after crash

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - A Desoto County deputy has a long road ahead after being hit by a car while helping a stranded driver on the side of the highway.

Deputy Austin Eldridge was critically injured and remains in the hospital.

Meantime, the person who hit Eldridge faced a judge Monday.

Catherine Harris, 37, was charged with a DUI involving death or serious bodily harm.

Catherine Harris is accused of a hit and run involving a Sheriff
Catherine Harris is accused of a hit and run involving a Sheriff (Source: Desoto County Sheriff's)

Monday afternoon she had her initial court appearance.

“The judge set her bond at $500,000 and tomorrow, as of right now there will be a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the case will be bound over to the grand jury,” said John Champion, District Attorney, 17th Circuit Court District.

As Harris left the building she offered an apology.

“Sorry, lesson learned,” she said.

Friday night 27-year old Eldridge was on I-269 helping someone with a flat tire when Harris struck him. Both of his legs were injured in the crash and he was airlifted to a Memphis hospital.

“He’s got a long, long way to go and he’s certainly not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” said Champion.

Eldridge has been on patrol for less than a year. He and his wife have a child on the way.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with medical expenses.

According to the National Institute of Justice, more law enforcement officers die each year in traffic incidents than from any other cause.

Champion and the Desoto County Sheriff’s Office say incidents like Friday night’s crash are rare in DeSoto County.

“You know every time you step out of your car there’s odds you’re going to get hit, but we don’t have a lot of that here. I mean we really don’t; I’ve been here a long, long time and thank goodness we don’t have this happen a lot,” said Champion.

In Mississippi, the Move Over law states drivers passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road must slow down and move over one lane.

Champion did not comment on whether Catherine Harris has any prior arrests.

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