Drunken driving cited as cause of two deaths

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2005


Staff Reporter

LaPlace — Alcohol was proven to be the cause in the two crashes and a traffic incident on Interstate 10 westbound at milepost 202 near LaPlace, on May 28, resulting in two deaths.

At 2:04 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop B investigated that a 1995 Mercury Tracer, driven by Lawrence Perez, 36, of Deer Park, Texas, was traveling on Interstate 10 the wrong way (eastbound in the westbound lanes). Before law enforcement could intercept the suspect vehicle, a westbound 2001 Grand Prix, driven by John Kevin, 23, of Pensacola, Florida, saw the Tracer traveling the wrong way and tried to avoid the car by steering to the right. In doing so, the Grand Prix struck the right guardrail and came to rest on the right shoulder of Interstate 10, according to Troop A Public Information Officer Johnnie Brown.

“I responded to Troop B’s call,” said Brown. “Their P.I.O was out of town at the time of the crashes.”

The Tracer continued to travel east in the westbound left lane and crashed into a 1997 Pontiac Bonneville, driven by Michael Ray, 19, of Metairie, head on at milepost 203.

Upon impact, both vehicles rotated left. Seconds later two other vehicles attempted to avoid the Tracer and the Bonneville, according to Brown.

A 2003 Ford Crown Victoria driven by Cody A. Ponson, 18, of Gonzales, was traveling in the westbound left lane and turned right striking the Bonneville.

The second vehicle, a silver 1993 Ford F-150, driven by Daniel W. Graham Jr., 18, of Denham Springs, tried steering clear of the crashes and ended up striking the front left side of the Tracer on the drivers side, then rotated left, striking the left guard rail, according to Brown.

According to Brown, Perez sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. John Parish Coroner’s Office. Ray, sustained fatal injuries as the vehicle caught on fire and was also pronounced dead at the scene.

The four occupants in Graham’s truck and the seven occupants in Ponson’s Crown Victoria did not sustain injuries.

Brown said lab results indicated Mr. Perez’s blood alcohol content was more three times the legal limit for an adult at .260g percent. A person is considered intoxicated at .08g percent.