Drunk driver kills teacher in I-55 head-on

Drunk driver kills teacher in I-55 head-on


GLUCKSTADT — An award-winning Canton middle school teacher hit head-on by a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way on I-55 here Saturday afternoon is being remembered for her dedication to her job and her students.

Tyra Small-Jackson, 48, of Canton, a teacher at Nichols Middle School, was killed in the 4 p.m. accident on Saturday, June 22. 

A Canton Public School District statement said Jackson was selected as Nichols Middle School’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year and “received numerous awards during her tenure in the district.”

“Her beautiful spirit will forever live on in the memory and the hearts and minds of the countless lives she touched,” the statement said. 

“We are thankful for Mrs. Small-Jackson’s years of distinguished service to the Canton Public School District. She dedicated her life to making sure her students felt loved and prepared for the next level. She will be truly missed.”

The city of Gluckstadt echoed that sentiment in a statement.

“Mrs. Tyra Small-Jackson was an accomplished and beloved teacher in our neighboring city of Canton,” the Gluckstadt statement said. “She was a remarkable young woman who made an impact in the lives of all who knew her and the young lives she touched through teaching. Please continue to lift her family up in prayer during this unimaginable time. Our hearts and thoughts remain with them.”

Erica Jones, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, said she was “deeply saddened” by Jackson’s death.

“Tyra's commitment to her students and her outstanding contributions to education will always be remembered,” Jones said. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.”

Jackson’s funeral will be held on Monday, July 2, at 11 a.m. at Mt. Zion MB Church on North Street in Canton. The family says friends can honor her by wearing purple, her favorite color, with black and white.

The intoxicated woman, Jordan Leah Sullivan, was arrested and charged with aggravated DUI, according to Gluckstadt Police Chief Barry Hale. On Tuesday, she was released from the Madison County Detention Center on a $250,000 bond. 

The Gluckstadt Police Department and the Gluckstadt Fire Department responded to the call.

Sullivan, traveling southbound in the northbound lane, struck Jackson’s vehicle head-on at the Gluckstadt Road exit.  

Hale said Jackson had to be extricated and died a short time later. 

Two other passengers in the vehicle were transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Hale said the accident backed up all lanes of I-55 for more than two hours because of the extraction and to allow a medical helicopter to land.

“It took us two hours at least to clear the scene,” Hale said. “For most of that time, traffic was at a stand-still.”

Sullivan’s charge of aggravated DUI carries a sentence of between five and 25 years if convicted.

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