Vehicles involved in hit and run sought

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2010



LAPLACE – State and local law enforcement authorities are continuing to investigate a hit-and-run crash in St. John the Baptist Parish last Saturday that killed a pedestrian trying to cross Airline Highway in LaPlace.

Patrick H. Toney, 59, was in the center turning lane on Airline Highway near the intersection of Belle Terre Boulevard about 9:40 p.m., when he stumbled backward into the left eastbound lane and was hit by a dark colored SUV and a Dodge Neon. Matey said neither vehicle stopped following the impact, and both fled the scene continuing to travel eastbound on Airline.

Toney was then thrown into the left westbound lane of Airline, where he was hit by a Hyundai Elantra and a Nissan Altima. Matey said both the driver of the Nissan and the driver of the Hyundai stopped to offer aid. Toney was pronounced dead on the scene by the St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner’s Office.

Matey said fatal accidents involving pedestrians trying to cross busy intersections continues to be a problem statewide. According to statistics from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, in 2009 there were more than 1,200 accidents statewide involving pedestrians with 109 of those resulting in fatalities.

Crashes are particularly problematic on busy streets like Airline Highway and even River Road in St. John Parish, where speed limits are higher

“Getting hit at 45 miles per hour can be a tremendous blow to the body,” Matey said. “It is an unfortunate issue for us.”

Matey said pedestrians have the right to cross the street, but it should always be done at a crosswalk or up at the signal light of an intersection. She said regular pedestrians need to pay attention to traffic, light sequences and where crosswalks are before attempting to cross a street.

The statistics show a continued decrease from year to year, but Matey said there is still work to be done. She said State Police Troops statewide often hold safe driving and pedestrian education courses in all parishes across the region.

Meanwhile, St. John Sheriff’s authorities say they are keeping open communication with State Police and are assisting troopers with the investigation.

Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said a traffic division investigator has been assigned to canvass all body repair and glass repair shops in the area to determine if any vehicles match those involved in the accident. Clement said officers are also checking with businesses in the area for any surveillance video that may have recorded the crash.

“The traffic division and Crime Prevention Unit have been on the look out for the vehicles in question,” Clement said. “We have also sent out a flyer to all criminal line personnel in the area to be on the look out.”

Matey said driver impairment is not a factor on the part of the drivers of the Hyundai and Nissan, but impairment is suspected on the part of the pedestrian. She said a toxicology report is still pending.

Matey said investigators are asking for assistance in identifying the dark-colored SUV or the Dodge Neon. She said community involvement could be vital in determining involvement in the accident.

Anyone with information on the vehicles or the drivers should contact State Police Troop B at 504-471-2775, or the St. John Sheriff’s Office Traffic Division at 985-652-6338.