Local woman killed at Vacherie “death trap” following crash at intersection

Published 12:13 am Saturday, January 26, 2019

VACHERIE — A local woman was killed Wednesday morning, the result of a violent crash on Louisiana 3127 in Vacherie at an intersection long considered dangerous by local motorists.

Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop C began investigating the two-vehicle fatality crash shortly after 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at Louisiana 3127 and Louisiana 3213, near the parish line between St. John the Baptist and St. James.

Toneka Terry, 51, died on the scene as a result of injuries suffered during the crash.

The preliminary investigation indicates Terry was traveling south on Louisiana 3213 in a Chevrolet Trailblazer when she reached the intersection with Louisiana 3127 and stopped at a stop sign.

For reasons still under investigation, Terry failed to yield and began making a left turn onto Louisiana 3127 in front of a westbound Caterpillar dump truck, State Police said.

The truck, driven by 54-year-old Charles Dewitt of Westwego, struck the driver’s side of the Trailblazer.

The St. James Parish Coroner’s Office pronounced Terry deceased on the scene. Terry’s 14-year-old daughter was a front seat passenger and suffered moderate injuries, authorities said.

The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in New Orleans.

State Police said impairment is unknown on the part of Terry and standard toxicology tests are pending through the St. James Parish Coroner’s Office.

Dewitt provided a breath sample, which showed no alcohol present.

All three occupants involved in the crash were wearing their seat belts.

Vacherie resident Christa Matherne shared what many people in the community expressed in the aftermath of the crash — either in conversation or on social media — that the intersection where the wreck occurred needs greater signal protection.

“The sad thing is I have and others have personally complained to DOTD about this road, and they always say it is the driver’s fault for every accident,” Matherne said. “Something needs to be done to make this a safer road to drive. There are way too many accidents.”

Matherne said she has been driving the road for 20 years and has been run off numerous times.

“If they would have finished our end like the St. Charles end, I really believe the number of accidents would be reduced,” Matherne said. “And that sad little merge lane they added by the bridge made that area a huge death trap. It’s ridiculous. I sent an email to DOTD about four years ago after four people were killed. They said almost all the accidents were motorists’ fault. I posted the letter on Facebook.”