2 counts of negligent homicide await bus driver; State Police detail fatal crash

Published 6:11 pm Sunday, August 28, 2016

LAPLACE — Sunday morning at approximately 6:40 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop B investigated a single car, minor injury crash on I-10 west at mile post 203. During the investigation of the single vehicle crash, another crash occurred at 7:17 a.m. involving a private rental bus and three additional vehicles.

The second crash claimed the lives of St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Chief Spencer Chauvin, 36, of Gramercy and 21-year-old Jermaine Starr of Moss Point, Miss.

Spencer Chauvin

Spencer Chauvin

Preliminary investigation revealed the initial crash involved a 2005 Nissan Titan, driven by 30-year-old Javontris Lawson of Marrero.

Lawson was traveling too fast for road conditions and lost control of the Titan, striking the left guardrail. The Titan then crossed the left and right lanes and struck the right guardrail. The vehicle came to rest across the right lane and right shoulder. Lawson and his passenger, 37-year-old Bryan Hill of Kenner suffered minor injuries.

Louisiana State Police and the St. John the Baptist Fire Department responded to and were protecting the crash scene.

The right lane was blocked by a fire truck, and a Trooper’s unit was just ahead of the fire truck with emergency lights activated.

Three firefighters were standing near the right guardrail between the Trooper’s unit and the Titan, assisting with the minor injuries and investigation. A 2002 Eldorado National private party bus was traveling at a high rate of speed west on I-10 in the left lane approaching the crash scene at mile post 203.

For reasons under investigation, the bus struck the left side of the fire truck that was angled in the right lane. The bus then struck the rear of a 2012 Toyota Camry, and the Camry was pushed into the rear of a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and flatbed trailer.

After striking the rear of the Camry, the bus veered into the right lane between the Trooper unit and the Titan. It struck the three firefighters that were standing near the guardrail. The firefighters were thrown over the edge of the elevated interstate into the water below, approximately 30 to 40 feet.

The Fire Chief, Spencer Chauvin, was transported to River Parishes Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Firefighter William Mack Beal, 35, of Gonzales was transported to a local facility with moderate injuries, and Firefighter Nicholas Saale, 32, of Ponchatoula was airlifted to University Medical Center Level 1 Trauma Center with critical injuries.

The Camry was driven by 35-year-old Marcus Tate of Moss Point, Miss.

Tate suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. The front seat passenger in the Camry, Vontravous Kelly and rear seat passenger David Jones, both of  Moss Point, were taken to University Medical Center.

Kelly is in critical condition and Jones is in serious condition. The other rear seat passenger, Jermaine Starr, was pronounced dead on the scene.

The driver of the Chevrolet Silverado was identified as 48-year-old Emiliano Acosta of Kenner.

The front seat passenger was 50-year-old Solma Almendarez of Kenner.

Three rear seat passengers include 30-year-old Jenyfer Espinal of Kenner, and two 10-year-old juveniles. All occupants of the Silverado were transported to local hospitals with minor to moderate injuries.

24 individuals have been identified as passengers on the private bus. All passengers were transported to local hospitals with minor to moderate injuries.

The driver of the bus has been identified as 37-year-old Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez.

Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez

Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez

Rodriguez is an illegal alien from Honduras and does not have a driver’s license. The owner of the bus is Kristina’s Transportation LLC/AM Party Bus out of Jefferson.

Rodriguez will be booked into the St. John the Baptist Correctional Center with two counts of negligent homicide, reckless operation and no driver’s license.

Additional criminal charges are forthcoming. This crash remains under investigation. Homeland Security Investigations is assisting Louisiana State Police.

“This is a very sad day for all first responders in Louisiana,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the St. John the Baptist Fire Department. Louisiana has the “Move Over” law in place to protect our first responders on our roadways. Please adhere to this law and slow down when approaching emergency vehicles and disabled vehicles on the road.”