Troopers Suspect Impairment in Fatal Auto Accident

Most law enforcement officers spend their careers dealing with tragedies that seem senseless and preventable. Given the opportunity, troopers with the Louisiana State Police will use the media to remind drivers of the dangers of driving while fatigued, impaired or distracted. Sadly, it is usually in the wake of a fatal auto accident that they receive the chance.

For example, troopers recently responded to a two-car accident in which a woman lost her life. The two vehicles were approaching the same intersection. The woman had the green light and proceeded through the intersection. The man driving the other vehicle failed to obey the red traffic signal and plowed into the driver’s side of the victim’s car.

The impact shoved her vehicle across the intersection into a utility pole where it finally came to rest. The woman died from the injuries she suffered in the impact. The driver believed to be responsible for the crash took off after the crash.

Police later found him and took him to the St. James Parish jail. He faces charges of DWI, reckless operation and negligent homicide. Additional charges include fleeing the scene of the accident and failing to obey the traffic signal.

It is believed that the driver was impaired at the time of the crash, so a toxicology sample was taken from him for analysis. Even though it does not appear that the victim was impaired, a sample was also taken from her. Both samples were sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for testing.

Should prosecutors secure a conviction on a charge related to the woman’s death, her family may be able to use it as evidence of the surviving driver’s negligence in a wrongful death claim. If the court is satisfied that negligence is proved, an award of damages like that often received in fatal auto accident cases could be considered. Monetary restitution may not help the family get over the loss of its loved one, but it may help with the financial burdens placed on the family members because of her death.