Norco teen-ager perishes in wreck near Baton Rouge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2001


NORCO – Rene Mauduit’s bedroom is filled with her memories – photographs of her many friends and a portfolio with her personal motto on the front cover that says, “Love does not make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” Her parents, Dale and Janice Weber Mauduit of Norco, remember her as a popular, hard working and ambitious young lady. “What Rene did was that she gave up things to do work,” her father said, adding she never wanted to be a burden on anyone and strived for independence. Rene, 17, a senior at Destrehan High School, died on the night of Feb. 2 in a two-car crash on the eastbound lane of Interstate 10, east of Grosse Tete and west of Baton Rouge. She was riding with three other teen-agers, all who sustained serious injuries. Rene’s father, a teacher and coach at Destrehan High School, said his daughter had already excelled in the workforce. She had worked at Motiva in the business office, where she was given responsibilities beyond her age, “because she could do it,” he said. She had previously worked at Maggie Moo’s and Ruby Tuesday’s, exhibiting her strong work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, Dale Mauduit said. She had been accepted at the University of New Orleans, where she planned to obtain a degree in accounting. At Destrehan High School she had been an honor student with a grade point average of about 3.8. “She never, ever, gave me an instant of grief,” said her father. Her room is decorated with a Matchbox 20 rock group poster and looks very much as she left it. Relatives, including her brother, Doug, and sister, Aimee Buteaux, along with grandparents and other relatives, gathered to remember her. “She was really pretty, but then I’m prejudiced,” said her father. According to Louisiana State Police Troop A, Rene was a rear-seat passenger in a 1996 Chevrolet Prizm driven by Justin Dragna, 18, of Marrero. Kurt Boss, 18, of Kenner, was riding in the front seat and Lacey Theriot, 17, of Metairie, was also in the rear seat. Dragna, Boss and Theriot all sustained serious injuries. At 10:42 p.m. the car rear-ended a 1995 Honda Civic driven by Siles Anderson, 24, of Houston. He and his passenger, Heather Tyson, 23, also of Houston, both wore seat belts and sustained minor injuries. After the crash the Honda came to a controlled stop before reaching the tree line, but the Chevrolet struck a large tree and Rene was ejected. Dragna is to be booked with DWI, negligent homicide and careless operation of a motor vehicle once he is released from Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, according to Louisiana State Police Troop A spokesman Johnny Brown. Services were held Tuesday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kenner, with interment at St. Charles Borromeo Mausoleum in Destrehan.