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Driver not licensed for bus in fatal I-10 wreck, state police say

LAPLACE — The driver of a charter bus involved in a deadly four-vehicle wreck Sunday morning that resulted in two deaths, including one of a St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Department District Chief, was not licensed to operate the vehicle, authorities said.

Trooper Melissa Matey, spokeswoman for Louisiana State Police, said criminal charges are pending against the driver as authorities investigate who owned the bus in question.

Acadian Ambulance announced two fatalities occurred as a result of the wrecks and 41 patients were taken for medical attention — five by air and 36 by ground units.

Authorities and family have identified one of the victims as St. John District Chief Spencer Chauvin.

Spencer Chauvin

Spencer Chauvin

“It is a sad day in St. John the Baptist Parish as we lost one of the bravest and most dedicated firefighters that I know,” Parish President Natalie Robottom said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, as well as to the families of the other two firefighters involved in the accident.”

State Police began investigating a crash on I-10 Westbound at mile post 203, which is on the three mile bridge. The initial crash involved a truck that was driving too fast for the road conditions. That truck struck the left guard rail and right guard rail before stopping across the right lane and right shoulder.

That wreck brought out response from numerous agencies, including State Police and the St. John Fire Department, which was helping secure the scene, close the road and protect emergency responders.

Three fire department members, including Chauvin, were standing between the trooper’s vehicle and truck involved in the first crash when a bus traveling westbound in the left lane approached — “out of control” Matey said — striking a fire department latter truck and sending the three firefighters over the rail and into the water below.

Two other vehicles were involved in that wreck with the charter bus, and one person from those vehicles was also killed, authorities said.

Matey said the crash is under investigation and criminal charges are pending. Police are looking into who owned the charter bus, which was transporting volunteers from New Orleans to the Baton Rouge region to help with flood recovery.

“This was a horrific accident and one that is still very active,” Robottom said. “This type of loss will affect the entire department and they will have our full support as they deal with the grief of losing a comrade. It is heartbreaking, especially after this same group of individuals helped to guide St. John the Baptist Parish safely through Hurricane Isaac, the February tornado and the flood event last week. Please pray for all involved and please pray for our community.”