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Pregnant teacher struck in hit-and-run after baby shower, killing unborn child, police say

Mashayla Harper, who teaches elementary school teacher, was 36 weeks pregnant when her vehicle was struck head-on, police said.
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A teacher who was 36 weeks pregnant lost her unborn child after her vehicle was struck head on in a hit-and-run as she drove home from her baby shower, her father said.

Mashayla Harper is still hospitalized but is recovering after the crash Saturday in Mississippi, her father, Maurice Pruitt Sr. said in a Facebook post Friday.

Pruitt said in an earlier Facebook post that his daughter went from "the happiest day" of her life to the intensive care unit of a hospital in a matter of minutes following the crash in Jones County, about 80 miles southeast of Jackson.

The suspected hit-and-run driver, James Gilbert, 33, was apprehended Saturday and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, with additional charges pending, a Jones County sheriff's official told NBC News. He was released Wednesday after posting 10 percent of a $100,000 bond, according to jail records. It is unclear if Gilbert has an attorney.

"That idiot hit her head on and left her out there on that road to die," Pruitt said in a Facebook post.

He said the family is grateful to a hunter who happened to be in the area and came to his daughter's aid. Harper, 24, was lying along a roadway when she was found.

Pruitt said in an interview Friday that Harper was expecting a girl and had been tracking the baby's growth on her Facebook page.

Pruitt said he knew something was wrong Saturday night when he and his wife were moved to a family room in the hospital where a doctor informed them that the unborn baby had died and Harper had suffered "tremendous trauma."

Harper spent the next 24 hours on life support, he said. A GoFundMe has been set up to assist with Harper's medical bills and lost income.

Her parents did not inform her that she had lost her baby, whom her father said she kept asking about, until Monday.

"She had in her mind that something was wrong with the baby," Pruitt said.