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Update: Driver in St. John fatal crash did not break traffic law

LAPLACE — Louisiana State Police do not believe a LaPlace driver who struck and killed a pedestrian last month was at fault for the wreck, but only exasperated the situation by fleeing the scene and attempting to cover up his role in the crash.

Citing the preliminary report, Senior Trooper Melissa Matey said 28-year-old Charles Combetta was driving legally in the established roadway when he struck LaPlace resident Danny Simoneaux late on the night of Oct. 19. According to State Police, Simoneaux was walking in the road when the collision took place.

According to authorities, Combetta left the scene, did not contact police and oversaw bodywork to his truck to fix damage from the crash.

Combetta was arrested Monday and is facing charges of felony hit and run, obstruction of justice and no driver’s license.

Matey stressed the investigation could take eight or more weeks and authorities are still working to determine if Combetta was by himself when the collision took place and how the repairs were made to his vehicle. There are no other suspects or persons of interest at this time.

Matey said police received several tips regarding a 2000 GMC Sierra pick-up truck owned by Combetta.

“Through investigation, it was determined the GMC had Chevrolet parts installed, including a Chevrolet headlight,” she said. “Evidence was also gathered indicating Combetta had removed and destroyed parts of the vehicle that were damaged in the crash.”

Combetta’s GMC was towed and processed for evidence.

Combetta’s arrest follows the death of Simoneaux, who was known for walking up to 11 miles a night near his MacReine Road home.

Lovingly known as “Beedy Eye” to his peers because of his recognizable squint, Simoneaux, 55, never drove a vehicle.

Simoneaux’s family and friends were horrified to learn that his typical walk home turned deadly overnight Oct. 19, when he was struck and killed by a motorist in a hit-and-run on Highway 628.

The collision occurred near Clement Drive in LaPlace, less than a mile from Simoneaux’s home as he was walking back from a friend’s house, according to Debbie Bailey, Simoneaux’s partner of 30 years.

“He should still be here,” Bailey told L’OBSERVATEUR last week. “He was so full of life.”

Louisiana State Police responded to the scene, discovering a hit-and-run fatality shortly after 7 a.m. Oct. 20.