One charged in Norco fatality

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Managing Editor

NORCO – A New Orleans man died Sunday evening in Norco, as a result of a three-vehicle collision. A Destrehan driver was charged with vehicular homicide, hit-and-run driving and driving while intoxicated.

In the third vehicle involved, the executive director of St. Charles Parish’s Council on Aging sustained severe injuries which hospitalized her.

According to Trooper Omar Landrum of Louisiana State Police Troop B, a 1989 Ford Crown Victoria was in the left lane of Airline Drive southbound at 5:43 p.m. The driver of the car was Juan L. Hernandez, 19, of New Orleans.

As he approached Airline’s intersection with Apple Street, a 1989 Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by Jerry Bellow, 34, of Destrehan, failed to yield at the stop sign on the levee access road and started to turn onto Airline

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southbound. However, Bellow’s truck partially entered the left lane of Airline southbound.

When that happened, the Crown Victoria swerved to the right to avoid hitting the pickup, spun around, and stopped in the left lane of Airline.

There, it was broadsided by a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe, driven by James H. Powe, 73, of Norco, along with his wife, Margaret Powe.

Hernandez died at the scene from injuries sustained in the collision. The Powes were transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace for treatment of their injuries.

James Powe sustained a cracked sternum, according to Dwight Boyd at the COA office, and was released Monday.

Margaret Powe is in intensive care, having sustained a punctured lung, cracked collarbone and broken ribs, and her spleen was removed, according to Boyd.

Bellow was charged with vehicular homicide, hit-and-run driving, driving while intoxicated, first-degree vehicular negligent injuring, vehicular negligent injuring, failing to yield to a stop sign, driving under suspension and no auto liability insurance.

Investigating officer is Master Trooper Robert Vittitoe.

Powe has been director of the St. Charles Council on Aging for 20 years.

“I hate to see that,” Parish President Albert Laque commented of her hospitalization. “She really does a good job, because her heart is in it.”