Three drivers killed in two wrecks on I-10

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 4, 1998

By Rebecca Burk and Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 4, 1998

GRAMERCY – Three people were killed in two separate accidents on Interstate 10 near here Thursday.

A 20-year-old Baton Rouge man died Thursday morning after the car he was driving struck an unoccupied van parked on the shoulder of Interstate 10.

Amazingly, while working the accident scene, troopers and St. John Parishdeputies stopped and arrested a potentially dangerous driver who was reportedly pointing a gun at other drivers.

Then later Thursday afternoon, two people were killed in a head-on collision when an 18-year-old headed west on Interstate 10 lost control of his car, crossed the median and hit a van traveling east in the right lane.

For reasons unknown, Patrick T. Broadway, 18, of Denham Springs, veeredoff the westbound lane of I-10 and crossed the median near the St. Johnthe Baptist Parish line. His gray 1991 Honda Civic slammed into a 1995Nissan minivan driven by 50-year-old Olga A. Jones of Metairie.The impact killed both drivers, who were alone in their vehicles.

In the first accident, Shawn David Breslin, 16736 Amberwood Drive, Baton Rouge, was westbound on I-10, four miles east of the Gramercy interchange, at 7:35 a.m. when his 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertiblestruck a parked 1993 Dodge Ram van.

Trooper Clenard Ross, traveling 200 yards behind Breslin, saw the smoke from the impact and halted. No skid marks were noted on the roadway toindicate Breslin braked at all, according to the accident report.

Upon impact, the rear of the Oldsmobile slid around and rolled over onto its left side, then slid for a short distance and came to a rest.

Breslin had been wearing a seat belt, but the vehicle was not equipped with an air bag and he died as a result of his injuries. The owner of thevan was later identified as Sheryl Sherlock of Baton Rouge.

Breslin’s golden retriever dog, riding in the rear seat, sustained minor head injuries and was transported by St. Charles Parish’s animal controlofficers to LaPlace veterinarian Dr. Philip Thiac for treatment.When troopers first attempted to approach Breslin, the protective dog kept officers away until he could be calmed down and led from the car.

St. John Parish Coroner Dr. Christy Montegut pronounced Breslin dead atthe scene at 8:45 a.m.In the other incident, state troopers received a call from an alarmed motorist who claimed a wrecker driver pointed a handgun at him after the alleged victim cut him off in westbound traffic on I-10, 12 miles down the road from the wreck.

According to Chief Harold Klibert of the St. John Sheriff’s Office, thealleged victim made a cellular phone call to state police dispatchers, who notified the troopers at the fatality accident scene at 8:55 a.m.In minutes, the black Ford wrecker, owned by Brown’s Salvage of Denham Springs, appeared at the scene and was stopped. Klibert said Richard L.Fontenot, 43, 7561 Pine Bluff Road, Denham Springs, was driving with a chrome handgun in plain view on the seat.

Arresting officers also confiscated a small pipe of a style commonly used to smoke marijuana. Fontenot was charged with disturbing the peace andpossession of drug paraphernalia. He could have been charged withaggravated assault as well but, as Klibert pointed out, police could not locate the alleged victim.

State police weren’t sure at first where Broadway lived since he was carrying two identifications on him at the time of the accident, according to Troop B spokesman Kevin Cannatella. One said he lived in Destrehan, andthe other listed his address as Denham Springs.

Cannatella said contact with Broadway’s next of kin revealed that he lived in Denham Springs.

Broadway, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from his car and thrown about 30 feet, Cannatella said. Jones, 50, was wearing a seatbelt.Cannatella said there is a chance a seatbelt may have saved Broadway’s life, but an investigation is pending.

“Had he had his seatbelt on, it would have kept him in the vehicle, but we don’t know if his car rolled on top of him,” Cannatella said.

The trooper said that he didn’t know if either of the drivers were drunk, but the investigation would reveal that as well as the possibility of speeding or reckless driving.

“We won’t rule anything out,” Cannatella said. “Until the investigation iscomplete there are an infinite number of possibilities.”

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