Five killed in Friday morning crash

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2012



LAPLACE – Five people were killed early Friday morning in a head-on collision between a sport-utility vehicle and a car on westbound Interstate 10 in St. John the Baptist Parish, according to officials with State Police. The wreck forced the closure of the westbound side of I-10 for nearly five hours.

State Police Spokesman Nick Manale said the driver of a 2000 Jeep Cherokee heading in the wrong direction on the elevated westbound lanes crashed into a 2010 Ford Focus carrying four people at around 3 a.m. Friday. Manale said all five people, whose names were not released prior to press time, died on the scene.

Upon impact, which occurred at milemarker 203 just west of the Belle Terre Boulevard (Louisiana Highway 3188) interchange, the Jeep burst into flames and the driver suffered serious burns.

Manale said troopers were not immediately able to say how many of the deceased were men or women. Investigators were not able to determine if the driver of the Jeep was wearing a seat belt. Two occupants of the Ford Focus were not properly restrained, according to police.

Manale said State Police received several calls about a vehicle going the wrong way on the highway, but troopers were unable to reach and stop the vehicle before the crash. Moments after the accident, an 18-wheeler and a 1998 Saturn Sedan hit the Jeep and the Focus. The occupants of those vehicles suffered minor injuries, Manale said.

Investigators still do not know why the driver of the Jeep was traveling in the wrong direction on the interstate or how long he was on the roadway before the crash. Manale said an autopsy and toxicology will determine if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The cause is still under investigation.

The westbound lanes of I-10 were shut down following the accident and did not re-open until just before 8 a.m. Friday.