Calcasieu Parish – On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, shortly after 6:30 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop D responded to a three-vehicle fatal crash involving an 18-wheeler on Interstate 10 about 4.5 miles west of Vinton. The crash claimed the life of 54-year-old Stephen Duane Bertram of DeQuincy.
The preliminary investigation revealed a 2013 Freightliner 18-wheeler driven by 34-year-old Justin Anthony Chong of Asheville, North Carolina was traveling east on I-10. For unknown reasons, the 18-wheeler ran off the left side of the roadway, crossed the center median, and struck a 2009 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Zachary N. Flessner of Damon, Texas and a 2011 Chevrolet SUV driven by Bertram that were both traveling west on I-10.
Despite being properly restrained, Bertram sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Flessner, who was properly restrained at the time of the crash, sustained moderate injuries and was transported from the scene to a Beaumont area hospital.
Chong, along with his 3-year-old and 8-year-old juvenile passengers were properly restrained and were transported to a Lake Charles area hospital with minor injuries.
Toxicology samples were obtained and will be submitted for analysis. Charges against Chong are pending.
While the exact cause of this crash remains under investigation, inattentive/distracted driving continues to be a leading factor in fatal crashes in our state. More information on distracted driving may be found online at www.distraction.gov.
Troop D has investigated 18 fatal crashes resulting in 21 deaths.