Charges dropped in fatal ’16 crash that resulted in deaths of 2 Garyville residents
Published 12:16 am Wednesday, April 24, 2019
EDGARD — Prosecutors dropped charges against a Houma man implicated by authorities as having caused a 2016 fatal wreck that resulted in the deaths of two Garyville residents.
St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut said the law enforcement investigation did not produce the evidence to prove legal criminal negligence by the defendant, meaning prosecutors could not proceed with their case.
Louisiana State Police acted as the lead agency in the investigation of 23-year-old Bryce Anthony Riggs.
“They were checking the phones, checking the vehicle, interviewing the passenger, whatever their investigation entailed, but at no time did that investigation provide or produce the evidence needed to meet the legal standard of a criminal negligence to be able to go forward with the prosecution,” Dinvaut said.
According to the St. John Parish Clerk of Court’s office, prosecutors dropped two charges of negligent homicide against Riggs on April 1, as well as dropping charges of negligent injuring, improper lane use and careless operation of a motor vehicle.
Dinvaut said it is up to State Police investigators to pursue a different charge if they believe one applies. A Louisiana State Police official said its case against Riggs is closed and declined additional comment.
Court officials said as of now Riggs would not be cited for the crash that led to the deaths of 69-year-old Arlene Richard and 91-year-old Cecile Oubre.
Louisiana State Police initially cited distracted driving as the cause of a two-vehicle crash Dec. 28, 2016, in Garyville.
Richard was driving a Kia Sportage southbound on River Road at approximately 5:30 p.m. when the vehicle was struck by a Dodge Ram driven by Riggs, who was 21 at the time and traveling northbound on River Road.
“Riggs was engaged in conversation with his passenger, 20-year-old Brent Crochet, and this distraction caused the Dodge to drift into the southbound lane and impact the Kia,” Troop B spokeswoman Melissa Matey said in December 2016. “After the initial impact, the Dodge began to rotate and then rolled onto its roof. Riggs and Crochet both suffered moderate injuries and were transported to St. James Parish Hospital.”
The front seat passenger in the Kia, 60-year-old Evette Berthelot, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Ochsner Health Center – River Parishes.
Oubre, the left side, rear seat passenger in the Kia, was taken to University Medical Center in New Orleans with critical injuries, authorities said, and later died at the hospital. Richard was pronounced dead on the scene.
On April 25, 2017, Riggs was formally arrested for negligent injuring (misdemeanor) and two counts of negligent homicide (felony).