Family in anguish over child’s death

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002


RESERVE – A 13-year-old bicycle rider died Friday after being struck by a passing car in Reserve, while his friend lies in critical condition in New Orleans, struggling for his life.

The driver, Reserve resident Jacob Leblanc, was not ticketed by the State Police. Investigators determined the accident was not Leblanc’s fault and the victims’ family members believe justice was not served.

Joseph Dillon, 13, of 275 E. 24th St., Reserve, was traveling northbound Friday on Louisiana Highway 3179 in the right shoulder around 5:45 p.m., according to Louisiana State Trooper Lt. William Dorris.

He is the son of Curtis Dillon and Ellen Dillon Mason, the fourth of nine children. Piloting the bicycle was Anthony Davis, 14, of 125 Melius Drive, also in Reserve. He is the son of Margie Conner and Walter Conner, and stepson of Sam Davis. Both were students at Leon Godchaux Junior High School in Reserve.

The pair were riding the bicycle, Davis pedaling and Dillon riding behind, upright on two pegs, Dorris said.

For an unknown reason, the bicycle swerved into the roadway and into the path of a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis, also traveling northbound, driven by Leblanc of 114 Leblanc Drive.

“The kids slowed from the shoulder of the road into the travel lane of the driver,” Trooper Omar Landrum said, in saying Leblanc would not be ticketed or charged. “Speed was definitely not a factor.”

According to Jimmy Green, of 210 E. 22nd St., who was near the accident scene, “I heard a noise – Boom! – and I hurried to my kitchen window and saw a kid in the road and called 911.”

After calling for help, Green ran out and saw a second teen-ager lying in the ditch alongside the right shoulder. Now, a bouquet and a white teddy bear sits at the site where Joseph Dillon died.

Dillon’s mother said she was told her son was knocked into the air, landed onto the driver’s windshield and rolled off the right side of the vehicle and into the ditch, while rolling over Davis, before coming to a stop.

Green said he saw the driver, Leblanc, unsuccessfully giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Dillon, the driver’s bearded face bloodied by the effort.

A few minutes later, Acadian Ambulance emergency personnel arrived, along with several Reserve Volunteer Fire Department firefighters.

While examining the skid marks at the accident scene, Curtis Dillon grew increasingly angry and declared, “Looks like justice could be done about this.”

Dillon’s mother added, “It was an avoidable accident.” She described him as “very athletic, hard-working, who loved to earn his own money,” and added he was also an amateur artist.

Dillon was transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace and pronounced dead at 8:36 p.m. Davis was taken first to River Parishes Hospital and transferred to Charity Hospital in New Orleans in critical condition, Trooper Dorris continued.

Alcohol or speed are not considered to be factors in the cause of the accident, Dorris said. Trooper Christopher Anderson investigated the incident.

“My child’s fighting for his life, and I still feel justice hasn’t been served,” said Davis’s mother.

Davis’s mother disputed the official account of the accident, saying it’s impossible for someone not to notice a bicyclist alongside the roadway and to take common-sense precautions. The road is a broad, straight highway which runs from River Road to Airline Highway. The accident took place three-tenths of a mile from River Road.

Later at Charity Hospital, Anderson delivered a watch and pieces of a broken cross worn around Davis’ neck.

“A mother cries and a child dies,” the mother commented, tears once again welling up in her eyes as she again headed out the door to the hospital.

The Joseph Dillon Fund has been established at Hibernia Bank to assist the family with funeral expenses, administered by Joseph’s aunt, Donna Perrilloux.

Perrilloux is also asking for any possible witnesses to contact her at 536-4693 or at DMP Prayerline Ministries at 651-7100.

“When you hit someone from behind, it’s your fault – either you’re speeding or you’re too close,” Perrilloux said. “Anybody seeing two kids up ahead is going to slow down.”

Services for Joseph are set Saturday at 10 a.m. at New Pilgrim Baptist Church, with interment at Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery.