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Mississippi teacher unborn baby killed in hit & run minutes after baby shower

Mashayla Harper and James Cory Gilbert
Pictured, Mississippi woman, Mashayla Harper and James Cory Gilbert
Mashayla Harper and James Cory Gilbert
Pictured, Mississippi woman, Mashayla Harper and James Cory Gilbert

Mississippi teacher unborn baby killed in hit & run minutes after baby shower: Driver w/ history of drink driving, James Cory Gilbert crashes into Mashayla Harper. 

Define tragedy? A 24-year-old Mississippi teacher has lost her unborn baby eight months into her pregnancy after being hit by a driver with a history of DUI’s while driving home from her baby shower.

The ‘incident’ left Mashayla Harper, of Laurel ‘fighting for her life,’ as police say the driver fled the crash scene The Laurel Leader-Call reports.

Harper was found lying along the side of a roadway after her Honda Accord was struck head-on by a 2005 Nissan Titan just before 6 p.m. Saturday. She was transported to a hospital in critical condition, Sgt. J.D. Carter of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department said.

Mashayla Harper
Pictured, Mashayla Harper of Laurel, Mississippi.

‘I’m very sorry. I’m so sorry.’

Harper, a fourth-grade teacher, had been celebrating the upcoming arrival of her first child with family and friends in Soso, Mississippi, on Saturday when her car was struck by the vehicle. The driver of the other automobile was identified as 33 year old man with a history of drink driving arrests, James Cory Gilbert

Gilbert – a father of two young girls – upon his arrest later that evening, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused death or injuries. He is currently being detained on a $100,000 bond. The charge could increase after the results of an impending blood test are released, District Attorney Tony Buckley said.

Gilbert admitted he had been drinking – with police saying a small amount of marijuana was found inside the man’s vehicle.

‘I was scared,’ Gilbert conceded when asked why he fled the scene. ‘I’m very sorry. I’m so sorry.’

Gilbert’s arrest, hours after the crash came after when the newly elected sheriff, Joe Berlin, called Gilbert’s wife and convinced her to contact him and urge him to ‘do the right thing,’ and turn himself in. 

‘I’m glad he came clean about it,’ Berlin told the Laurel Leader-Call.

James Cory Gilbert
Pictured, James Cory Gilbert, DUI driver who killed Mashayla Harper unborn baby.

A history of drink driving: 

Gilbert has at least three DUI convictions since 2008 and was convicted of felony DUI and possession of methamphetamine in 2015.

‘This one is more egregious because the suspect knew he struck someone and caused life-threatening injuries,’ Buckley said. ‘[Gilbert] truly fled.’

Truly fled, cause this time, he knew there was no way out.

When the man’s arrest affidavit was read in court explaining how Harper ‘lost her unborn child,’ Gilbert and his family members began to cry.

Gilbert told the judge he and his wife have two daughters and that he works in construction.

‘What am I suppose to do now?’

Harper was transferred to another hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. Doctors officially upgraded her condition from critical to stable.

‘To see our baby go from this being the happiest day of her life to I.C.U. 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,’ Harper’s father, Maurice Pruitt Sr., posted to Facebook. ‘Thanks to everyone that’s praying and has called to check on the status of Mashayla… She’s a very strong woman and she continues to fight for her life.’

‘I have looked at this picture 1,000 times praying that it wouldn’t be anything more than a beautiful picture of us,’ another family member, Alondria Hampton, posted to Instagram, along with a photo of herself, Harper and another guest. ‘We were supposed to be talking about the baby shower right now not visiting you in ICU.’

‘They are through with all her surgeries,’ Pruitt had told the Sun Herald. ‘Everything is fine. She is awake. She knows that her baby died. She is really sad. She doesn’t want anyone to leave her right now. They are allowing her mother to stay with her.’

Harper had been expecting a baby girl, who she’d already named, Londyn Alise Jones.

Harper, continues to recover from extensive injuries, including head trauma, a broken leg and damage to her abdomen. Along with a deep wound inside her heart.