State police report 14 deaths in state during holiday week

By Special to the American Press

Two people died in one car crash in Southwest Louisiana during the Thanksgiving holiday week, state police officials said.

Statewide, it is one of 13 total car crashes that resulting in 14 deaths that State Police investigated, according to Col.

Mike Edmundson, State Police superintendent.

“Seven of the fourteen people killed were not wearing seat belts and two of the crashes involved driver impairment,” he said

in a news release. “Troopers are urging motorists to abide by the laws of driving sober and properly wearing seat belts.”

The local crash happened in the early

morning hours on Thanksgiving on La. 109 between Vinton and Starks. The

investigation

revealed that 34-year-old Donald Ray Richardson, or Orange, Texas,

was headed north when he ran off the road and hit a tree,

state police said. Richardson was pronounced dead at the scene. A

back seat passenger, 40-year-old Gregory Joseph Wilson, of Starks,

was transported to an area hospital, where he died a short while

later. The front seat passenger, 29-year-old Anthony Ogle, of Brewster,

Wash., was transported to a hospital in Beaumont, Texas, with

critical injuries.

None of the men were wearing seat belts, state police said.

According to the National Highway

Traffic Safety Administration, the national seat belt usage rate in 2011

was 84 percent.

Louisiana was below that average — at 77.7 percent. Louisiana law

requires that every person in the car must be restrained.

“Seat belts significantly reduce injuries and fatalities when worn properly and they ensure that the person remains inside

the vehicle,” Edmonson said.

In 2011, he said more than 42 percent of Louisiana’s motor vehicle fatalities were the result of driver impairment.

“Drivers should put a plan in place prior to consuming alcohol because judgment is the first thing that is affected,” Edmonson

said. “Get a sober driver, call a taxi or simply do not drive.”

Other State Police-investigated crashes in the state:

• Troop A (Baton Rouge):One crash resulting in one death. Excessive speed is a factor.

Troop E (Alexandria): One crash resulting in one death. Seat belts were not used.

Troop F (Monroe): Two crashes resulting in two deaths, one of which was a pedestrian. Seat belts were not used and one crash

involved impairment.

Troop I (Lafayette): Six crashes resulting in six deaths, one was a pedestrian and one was a motorcycle. Three of the six

crashes involved lack of seat belt usage and one impaired driver.

Troop L (Mandeville): Two crashes resulting in two deaths. One of the crashes involved an impaired driver.

Troops B in New Orleans, C in Houma/Thibodeaux and G in Shreveport had no crashes.