Cantrelle: COVID, fatal accidents & homicides – our most read stories of 2020

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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As we dive into 2021, I’m sure most of us are ready to close the books on 2020 for good. Before we leave last year in the dust, I thought it was important to review L’OBSERVATEUR’s top stories of the year, according to page views provided by Google.

We all know the horrors the world went through in 2020, but these statistics are a mirror reflecting the most significant stories in the River Parishes. I was surprised by the list I saw; I expected the top stories to involve the high profile court cases of ex-Judge Jeff Perrilloux, convicted of sexual battery and indecent behavior, and Kyle Joekel, convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death for the killings of two St. John the Baptist Parish police officers in 2012.

There were victories and feel-good stories throughout the difficult year, which will be recorded in our upcoming Year in Review section. As far as page views go, however, bad news reigned supreme. The year 2020, based on the interest of our online readers, could be succinctly summed up as COVID, fatal accidents and homicides.

Just take a look at this Top 10 list:

  • Together in life & death: Husband & wife pass away hours apart from each other – April 22, 2020
  • Region’s 1st Swamp zip line coming to LaPlace – May 9, 2020
  • SJSO reports 2 dead, 2 injured in LaPlace double homicide – Oct. 25, 2020
  • Mother & child killed in 2-vehicle crash in St. John the Baptist Parish – Feb. 24, 2020
  • Reserve man killed in fatal New Year’s Day crash – Jan. 1, 2020
  • 2nd suspect arrested in LaPlace homicide – April 7, 2020
  • Gramercy woman killed in St. John the Baptist crash – April 10, 2020
  • Sheriff confirms homicide in LaPlace; more details to follow – Oct. 25, 2020
  • Corrie Wallace turns himself in; Sheriff shares details on vicious homicide – April 6, 2020
  • John Parish President announced 1st confirmed fatalities from COVID-19 – March 25, 2020

You may notice that No. 6 and No. 9 are connected to the same homicide. No. 3 and No. 8 are also connected to the same incident. This is because we post breaking news as we find out about it and post additional stories as new developments occur. My hearts go out to the families of the victims in both of these homicides.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office started an investigation during the Stay at Home order in April after Ja’Riel Sam, 25, of LaPlace was found deceased in a vacant lot with a gunshot wound to her forehead. Corrie Wallace, 37, of LaPlace turned himself into authorities around 10 a.m. the next morning in connection to the homicide, which Sheriff Mike Tregre described as “vicious.”

The Oct. 25 double homicide was another scene that could have come straight out of a horror movie. The first details known at the time were that two women were killed and two others were injured in a Sunday afternoon attack in the 2400 block of North Sugar Ridge Drive in LaPlace. It was revealed that Oscar Urias, 23, wielded knives to kill his 31-year-old girlfriend and her 15-year-old sister. Urias also attacked his two teenage siblings, injuring his 15-year-old brother and leaving his 17-year-old sister in critical condition. Urias was taken into custody and gave a full confession to police.

With COVID-19 as the defining part of the year, it’s no surprise that our most read story, by far, was a result of the terrible virus. The story of Bishop Antoine Jasmine’s parents made national headlines and even got a CNN spotlight.

While standing at the pulpit at Choice International Ministries in LaPlace, Bishop Antoine Jasmine could always count on seeing his parents supporting him from the front row. While preaching at a special service in March, that Bishop Jasmine noticed his mother looked tired and worn down.

Little did he know that Edward Jasmine Sr. and Diane Jasmine had fallen ill with COVID-19. The husband and wife passed away just hours apart from each other on Good Friday.

The second-most read story was the only “good news” feature on the list: “: Region’s 1st swamp zip line coming to LaPlace.”

Originally slated for a fall 2020 opening, Zip NOLA is now coming to Peavine Road in Summer 2021. Nature lovers and thrill seekers will experience the beauty of the cypress swamp like never before with Zip NOLA, a unique zip line experience that will cover approximately 2,000 linear feet over 77 acres of swamp. A 60-foot tall start platform will introduce adventurers to five zip lines, two suspension bridges and a spiral tree staircase.

We are less than one week into 2021. From a newsroom standpoint, it has seemed quiet and peaceful compared to what we endured in 2020. We are not out of the woods yet, but hope is on the horizon, and I am looking forward to seeing good news outweigh the bad this year.


Brooke R. Cantrelle is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or