Trooper burned in 1 wreck; McKeithen ticekted in another

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 25, 1998

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

LAPLACE – Louisiana State Trooper Hung Nguyet Le of Troop B remains in critical condition at West Jefferson Hospital.

Le, 29, was working a detail on Interstate 55, one mile south of Ponchatoula, when he was struck by a 1989 Ford van driven by James Bardwell, 71, of Ponchatoula.

According to Trooper Kevin Cannatella of Troop B, Le and his vehicle were in the right lane, safeguarding a construction crew pulling a traffic sign which diverted traffic to the left lane.

The crew members were picking up cones in preparation to leave when the van struck Le’s unit and pushed it into the crew’s unit. Le was caught inthe fireball which erupted, and he sustained third degree burns over 70 percent of his body.

The crew members pulled Le from his vehicle. Bryan Crow, 23, ofMandeville, and Brian Guidry of New Orleans, of the construction crew, each received moderate injuries. Bardwell likewise received moderateinjuries.

All were initially transported to North Oak Hospital, Hammond, and Le was taken to West Jefferson Medical Center’s burn unit.

Bardwell was charged with one count of careless operation of a motor vehicle, one count of not wearing his required eyeglasses and three counts of negligent injury. He will be booked at Tangipahoa Parish upon hisrelease by the hospital.

Cannatella added, as of press time, Le was “awake, alert and answering questions” regarding the accident. Le will be transferred to HoustonMedical Center’s burn unit for further surgery and recovery as soon as possible.

In other Louisiana State Police-related news, a trooper working along Interstate 10 in LaPlace May 15 ticketed Louisiana Secretary of State Fox McKeithen for careless operation of a motor vehicle after he struck another vehicle while driving 90 mph.

McKeithen was headed to Baton Rouge after attending the funeral for Blanche Long, 96, the widow of former governor Earl Long.

His budget was up for review by the Legislature, and he was determined to be there, according to reports.

McKeithen, in a 1995 Buick Roadmaster, was traveling at 90 mph in the left lane when he changed lanes and struck a second vehicle traveling at 60 mph., according to authorities.After impact, the two vehicles traveled another 180 feet before coming to a rest. The other driver, Myong Dobson, 38, and her son, Dwight Dobson, 3,each received minor head and shoulder injuries. McKeithen receivedmoderate head and neck injuries.

McKeithen told Trooper Tim Fitzpatrick he “apparently became distracted” and struck the other vehicle.

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