Man kills Keesler Air Force Base airman in Biloxi DUI crash

A former civilian contractor pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of aggravated impaired driving that killed a Keesler Air Force Base airman and injured three others.

Emmett Jason Bennett, 27, had traces of prescription painkillers, fentanyl and oxycodone – as well as marijuana and an herbal supplement called kratom – in his system when he crashed into four Airmen at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi on June 28, 2021.

The crash killed Airman Daniel J. Germenis.

Germenis and the three other victims were walking on the Air Force Base when Bennett’s Ford F-150 crashed into a light pole, flipped over, and struck them.

Upon impact, Germenis was dragged 100 feet before Bennett’s truck came to a stop 180 feet from the point of impact.

After that, Bennett got out of his vehicle, walked over to Germenis, and began “shaking” him in an attempt to “wake” him up, according to the federal criminal complaint and charging documents.

Emmett Jason Bennet_fitted.jpeg
Emmett Jason Bennett Harrison County Adult Detention Center

In exchange for his plea in federal court in Gulfport, prosecutors are dismissing an additional charge of manslaughter.

Judge Sul Ozerden allowed Bennett to remain free on bail with various conditions, including home supervision and routine alcohol and drug testing. He will be sentenced in November.

Prosecutors did not oppose his release pending sentencing. Bennett faces a sentence of 5 to 25 years plus possible restitution and fines of up to $10,000.

Before accepting Bennett’s guilty plea, Harris told the judge what evidence prosecutors would have produced had the case gone to trial.

In addition to the blood test which showed various drugs in his system, Harris said authorities recovered Bennett’s cell phone and found text messages between Emmett and his then-fiancé discussing his alleged drug use.

A witness also said Bennett nearly hit his car before the fatal crash. Subsequently, this witness went to report to the security of the Keesler when she saw the fatal accident.

Authorities interviewed Bennett’s fiancé a day after the crash.

During that interview, Harris said, authorities learned that Bennett smoked marijuana daily, had a problem with opiate use, regularly took kratom, and even overdosed on oxycodone at some point before his death. arrest in the fatal accident.

Additionally, Harris said, authorities determined that Bennett was accelerating at the time of impact and earlier in the day.

Other evidence included photographs, additional testimony and video for jurors if the case went to trial.

Bennett had been working as a civilian contractor in Keesler for about a month when the incident occurred.

The FBI, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Air Force Security Offices and the Biloxi Police Department conducted the investigation. The FBI has jurisdiction because the wreckage took place on federal land and the contractor is a civilian

The family of the deceased Keesler airman and others injured did not attend court on Tuesday, although an investigator from Keesler’s Office of Special Investigations was present.

This story was originally published July 19, 2022 1:30 p.m.

Margaret Baker is an investigative journalist whose search for the truth exposed corrupt sheriffs, a police chief and various jailers and led to the first federal hate crime prosecution for the murder of a transgender person. She worked on the Sun Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina team. When she pursues a great story, she is relentless.

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