I-10 wreck in LaPlace claims three

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — A fiery wreck along Interstate 10 in LaPlace early Christmas morning claimed the life of a young woman and two children, according to a release from Louisiana State Police Troop B.

Five others were injured in the three-vehicle crash, which involved an 18-wheeler slamming into the back of a GMC Yukon SUV and pushing it into the back of a Lincoln passenger car. The crash happened just after midnight Christmas morning in the eastbound lanes of I-10 between the Belle Terre and U.S. Highway 51 exits in LaPlace. The road was enveloped in a thick layer of fog at the time of the accident.

Senior Trooper Joseph Piglia said Danielle Adams, 26, Kyren Thompson, 3, and Diavion Hite, 6, all residents of New Orleans, were killed as a result of the accident. Piglia said the victims were riding in the rear of the Yukon when the accident occurred.

Piglia said Candace Walker, 23, of New Orleans, who was a passenger in the Yukon, and an unidentified 3-year-old girl are in critical condition and were transported to critical burn units in Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Also injured in the crash were Lewis Knoten, 26, who was driving the Yukon, and Alvin Welch, 27, who was driving the Lincoln. Knoten was transported to River Parishes Hospital, while Welch was sent to Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner. Both men, also from New Orleans, suffered moderate injuries.

According to Piglia, the Lincoln and the Yukon were traveling together in the eastbound lanes of the interstate when the Lincoln got a flat tire. The vehicles continued to drive to the next exit at a reduced speed, with the Yukon traveling directly behind the Lincoln.

The driver of the 18-wheeler, Tammy P. Westbrook, 39, of St. Rose, who was traveling eastbound in the right lane, told state troopers she saw the vehicles in front of her, but could not swerve in time to avoid the crash, Piglia said. The truck crashed into the Yukon, which was forced into the back of the Lincoln. The impact caused the Yukon to burst into flames. Westbrook suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Trooper David Easley and an off duty firefighter, who happened to be traveling in the area, pulled Knoten, Walker and the 3-year-old girl from the burning vehicle but were unable to reach the other three passengers in time, state police said.

Piglia said Easley, who was using a fire extinguisher to try and quell the flames, suffered smoke inhalation and experienced minor injuries to his hands. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Piglia said the accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed at this time. He said investigators do not suspect that any of the drivers were impaired at the time of the accident.

The wreck completely shut down both sides of Interstate 10 while troopers conducted their investigation. The lanes reopened just after 8 a.m. Thursday.