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Flowers Mark Spot Where Off-Duty Trooper Died in Hatchie Bottom

A bouquet with the name of the deceased off-duty MHP Trooper Josh Smith sits by a tree in Hatchie Bottom where Smith died from a single gunshot wound. A suspect has been charged with capital murder. (Photo by Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today)

By Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

An off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper’s life ended by a pine tree about halfway up a steep gravel road in Tippah County early Sunday.

The place where Josh Smith, 32, lost his life is now marked by a bouquet of flowers at the base of the pine tree. The flowers are wrapped in black and blue ribbons inscribed with his name and “R.I.P.”

Smith is remembered by many throughout Northeast Mississippi and beyond as a caring husband, father and friend who devoted his life to serving others.

The place where Smith’s life ended early Sunday is in a secluded area near the Tippah/Alcorn County line called Hatchie Bottom.

Locals say there is a Big Hatchie Bottom and a Little Hatchie Bottom. Smith died near Big Hatchie Bottom, a short distance from a concrete bridge that locals call the Waldon Bridge.

The bridge is spray-painted with typical graffiti and crosses over a swampy area. It is not too far from Tippah County Road 202.

Tippah County Coroner Chris McCalister investigated Smith’s death and was called to the scene in Hatchie Bottom at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. McCalister said Smith had been a trooper since 2007 and was almost always smiling.

Smith died of a single gunshot wound, said McCalister, who transported the body to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Jackson, Miss. on Sunday. McCalister expects a preliminary autopsy report back this week.

Visitation for Smith is Wednesday from 5-9 p.m., and Thursday from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Crossroads Arena in Corinth. The service is Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Crossroads Arena.

Suspect Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, of Rienzi, surrendered to authorities at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Eaton has been charged with capital murder and attempted murder. He was arraigned Monday afternoon in Benton County Circuit Court and was held without bond.

Eaton’s family has declined comment to Corinth Today.

Rickie Dale Vick, 38, of Michigan City,  was also shot and transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Waldon Bridge in Big Hatchie Bottom
Big Hatchie Bottom

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