Little girl, age 8, dies in I-10 crash

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A three-car wreck on Interstate 10 near LaPlace on Sunday claimed the life of an 8-year-old girl, and injured 10 others, said a spokesman for Louisiana State Police.

Grace Gary, 8, of Baton Rouge, suffered fatal injuries when the 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan she was riding in was struck from the side by a 2007 Toyota pick-up that had been traveling in the opposite direction. Senior Trooper Joseph Piglia, a State Police spokesman, said the child was transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace where she succumbed to her injuries.

Piglia said the accident occurred around 4:20 p.m. in the westbound lanes of I-10 near the Belle Terre exit. He said the wreck snarled traffic for nearly five hours while troopers investigated the accident.

According to a report from State Police, the Toyota pick-up, driven by 52-year old Robert Newman of New Orleans, was traveling eastbound on I-10 in the left lane when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle crossed

 the median and entered the westbound lanes.

At that point, Newman’s truck struck the left side of the Honda minivan, driven by Mona Gary, 42, of Baton Rouge, near the passenger door. Piglia said Grace Gary was riding in the left rear position of the minivan at the time of the crash.

The report goes on to say that the pick-up deflected off the van and hit a 2007 Dodge Caliber, driven by 37-year-old Steven Thomas of Baker, head-on.

Piglia said a 5-year-old boy, who was a passenger in the Toyota, was seriously injured in the crash. The boy was transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, where he remains in serious condition.

Piglia said the following people were also hospitalized with minor injuries:

Mona Gary, the driver of the Honda; James Gary, a passenger in the Honda; and a 5-year-old girl passenger in the Honda were all taken to River Parishes Hospital.

Steven Thomas, the driver of the Dodge; Jessica Thomas, a passenger of the Dodge; and a 13-year-old boy passenger in the Dodge were all taken to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Robert Newman, the driver of the Toyota; Triantie Wilson, a passenger in the Toyota; and an 8-year-old boy passenger in the Toyota were all taken to Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner.

The accident is still under investigation, but Piglia said driver impairment on the part of Newman was a factor in the crash. Piglia did not say how Newman was impaired. Newman will face multiple charges once he is released from the hospital.