Truck hits 2 Ole Miss students, killing 1; suspects arrested

Posted at 9:04 PM, October 17, 2022 and last updated 3:39 PM, July 7, 2023

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A pickup truck struck two University of Mississippi students in a parking lot in downtown Oxford, killing one of them and injuring the other, police said.

Two suspects, both from Collierville, Tennessee, were arrested by Monday in the crash, which occurred early Sunday, authorities said.

L to R: Seth Rokitka, Tristan Holland. Rokitka is charged with manslaughter, aggravated DUI, duties of driver involved in accident resulting in death, and duties of driver involved in accident resulting in personal injury. Holland is charged with accessory after the fact. (Lafayette County Sheriff’s Dept.)

Tristan Holland, 18, was taken into custody Sunday in Shelby County, Tennessee, on accessory after the fact. He will face extradition to Oxford, according to the Oxford Police Department.

Seth Rokitka, 24, was taken into custody Monday after investigators found his wrecked truck in Marshall County, Mississippi, between Oxford and Collierville.

The Oxford Police Department said Rokitka was charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of aggravated DUI. He is also charged with violating the duties of a driver involved in an accident that results in death or injury. He appeared before a justice court judge who set a $1 million bond.

The Associated Press left a phone message Monday for Rokitka’s attorney.

It was not immediately clear whether Holland had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Oxford police said the department received an emergency call after 1 a.m. Sunday from passersby who saw two people injured in the parking lot behind City Hall. The lot is just off the town square, near several bars and restaurants.

Oxford was busy Saturday because of the home football game between Ole Miss and Auburn.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the student who died was 21-year-old Walker Fielder of Madison, Mississippi. Fielder was a 2020 graduate of Jackson Academy in Jackson, Mississippi.

The injured student was transferred to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Oxford police told WRAL-TV that she is 20-year-old Blanche Williamson of Raleigh, North Carolina. Williamson graduated from Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Virginia.

“Oxford is a community that comforts those that need comforting,” Tannehill wrote Sunday on Facebook. “Perhaps that comes from practice and from times of trials that we wish we could pray away, but nevertheless, Oxford always steps up when things are hard and when people need us. These two families need us. They need our prayers.”

Oxford police said Monday that Rokitka and Holland had no interactions with either victim before striking them with the truck, and there were no fights or altercations. Police also said Rokitka and Holland did not provide aid or call 911.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce said in an email to faculty, staff and students that the two suspects are not affiliated with the university.

“It is a painful and distressing development for our campus community, and it is understandable that emotions are high with many unanswered questions about what happened,” Boyce wrote.