Fatal Car Crash Near Natchitoches

A man is dead after a high-speed, head-on crash on Interstate 49 that may have been either speed or alcohol related.

According to Louisiana State Police, 18-year-old Deytwan Demetrius, of Fort Polk, was southbound on Interstate 49 just south of State Highway 485 when he lost control of his vehicle, careened through the median, and smashed into a northbound automobile driven by 39-year-old Jabe Maddox, of Longview. Mr. Maddox was declared dead at the scene; Mr. Demetrius and a passenger – 18-year-old Trevon Lewis, of Leesville – were both transported to a local hospital with various injuries.

Charges against Mr. Maddox, as well as the results from toxicology tests, are pending.

Speed-Related Car Crashes

Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of fatal car crashes in Louisiana, and the proportion has remained relatively constant for the last ten years. Speed greatly increases breaking distance. At 60mph, a typical passenger vehicle travels about eighteen car lengths from the time the operator sees the need to break to the time the vehicle stops; at 70mph, the braking distance is twenty-four car lengths.

By extension, excessive speed also makes vehicles more difficult to control, especially if the operator is rather inexperienced. Many times, the driver misjudges a curve and then overcompensates, thus causing the vehicle to careen out of control.

Speed also increases the force of the collision, because of Newton’s Second Physical Law, which states that velocity has a multiplying effect on force. So, excessive speed transforms non-injury “fender bender” car crashes into severe crashes that cause serious injuries. Moreover, when the vehicle stops suddenly, small objects in the passenger compartment, like cell phones, continue travelling at their prior speed until they hit a solid object, such as a person’s head.

Drivers do not necessarily need to be exceeding the speed limit to breach the duty of care by travelling too fast, because drivers must slow down to adjust to adverse environmental conditions like rain or darkness.

Alcohol-Related Car Crashes

Although the proportion has decreased in recent years, alcohol is still a factor in many fatal car crash cases. In most cases, impairment begins at one drink, with symptoms like slower reaction times and impaired judgement. Either one of these things makes it unsafe to operate a motor vehicle. After another drink or two, most people experience blurred vision and unsteady balance, in addition to the other symptoms. After another drink or two, most people have completely lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties.

This progression brings up an important point: In civil court, the victim doesn’t need to prove that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was “drunk.” Rather, the victim only needs to establish that the tortfeasor was impaired. As a matter of fact, because of the lower standard of proof, evidence that a tortfeasor visited a party or commercial establishment where alcohol was served may be enough for a jury to conclude that the tortfeasor had been drinking, and by definition, was impaired.

Either a slightly excessive speed or any alcohol consumption often results in a deadly car crash. For a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Lake Charles, contact Hoffoss Devall. Attorneys can arrange for victims to receive ongoing medical treatment, even if they have no money and no insurance.