Another pedestrian killed on Airline

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2012



LAPLACE – A Reserve woman was arrested for DWI and could face other charges after she struck and killed a man crossing Airline Highway who was trying to return to the scene of an unrelated car accident early Saturday morning.

Trooper Melissa Matey, spokesperson for State Police Troop B said the victim, Mark Durham, 24, of Chicago, was crossing Airline highway near Jacob Street when he was struck by a 2012 Nissan Rogue driven by Gabriel S. Dennis, 23, of Reserve. Durham was taken to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace and later transferred to the Interim LSU Public Hospital Trauma Center with critical injuries. Matey said Durham was pronounced dead at the hospital around 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Troopers responded to the scene of both accidents shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday. Matey said preliminary investigation revealed that a 2005 Dodge Neon, driven by Bianca Mason, 21, of Chicago, was traveling north on Airline Highway near Jacob Street when she lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle traveled off the road to the right and came to rest in a partially filled drainage ditch.  

Matey said Mason and two other occupants, Lance Dewey, 31, of LaPlace, and Durham, were able to escape the vehicle unharmed. The three occupants crossed all lanes of Airline Highway into a lighted parking lot and called emergency services.

Matey said investigators determined that Durham attempted to go back across the lanes of Airline Highway to retrieve items from the vehicle, but was struck by Dennis’ vehicle in the right lane of northbound Airline.  

Matey said speed is not considered a factor in the accident, but added that Dennis was arrested for DWI after a sobriety test at the scene. Dennis was booked into the Sherman Walker Correctional Center in LaPlace Saturday. Matey said impairment is unknown on Durham’s part and toxicology results are pending an autopsy.  The crash remains under investigation and more charges could be filed.

Family members said Mason and Durham, who are engaged, had been in the St. John the Baptist Parish area since July 4 visiting Mason’s family.

Matey said State Police urges both motorists and pedestrians to remain vigilant while on area roadways and pay close attention to the surroundings.

“Distraction, whether behind the wheel or as a pedestrian, decreases awareness and reaction time possibly leading to life changing consequences,” Matey said. “State law requires pedestrians to utilize sidewalks where accessible or walk along the left shoulder as far away from the roadway as possible. Pedestrians should walk against the flow of traffic, wear light colored clothing, and stay out of the travel lanes at all times.”