Family mourns after fatal ATV accident

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2002


LULING – Parish ordinance makes it illegal in St. Charles Parish to operate a motorized vehicle on the Mississippi River levee, except in certain specific cases.

“Maybe this will help open some eyes,” said the brother of a woman who died Dec. 11 when struck from behind by such a vehicle in Luling.

The law states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate, drive or ride any motorized vehicle on parish-owned levees and in or on parish drainage ditches, canals or servitudes, within this parish.”

The law exempts vehicles performing legitimate, necessary duties such as inspecting, patrolling, maintaining or repairing, as authorized. The law also states any person who violates it could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $100 fine.

Sheriff Greg C. Champagne, in commenting on the Dec. 11 death of Jamie Busse, 42, of 177 Celia Drive in Luling, said, “That’s the example of why we have that law.”

A Luling man, Ryan Mcguire, 19, of 303 Evelyn Drive, was booked with negligent homicide after the high-performance all-terrain vehicle he was riding on the Mississippi River levee struck Busse as she walked westbound, or upriver, along the levee in front of Monsanto.

Busse was wearing headphones as she walked and did not hear the approaching ATV, which was also running without lights after 6 p.m. At the site of the incident, a cross has been erected, decorated with flowers.

Busse was a native of Arizona. She was the daughter of John, and the late Linda Finn, and sister of Paul and Steven Finn, and the late Shawn Finn.

Her brother, Paul Finn, a K-9 officer with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, recalled, “She was ‘Aunt Jamie’ to everybody. That was her job – being a friend to everybody.”

He said she felt comfortable and safe walking along the levee and called the incident “complete negligence” on the part of Mcguire. Finn said his sister was wearing light-colored clothing and that ATVs of the type which struck her have headlights brighter than most cars.

However, he also urged people to use caution about the operation of all-terrain vehicles, especially by driving them only in designated areas, such as the ATV track in the Bonnet Carre Spillway. He said such vehicles do not belong on any streets or on the levee and if caught, the vehicle could be towed.

Services for Busse were Dec. 15 in the chapel of H.C. Alexander Funeral Home, Norco.

Mcguire was also charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle on the levee.