Mississippi driver arrested in I-12 fatal crash
LACOMBE, LA — Lacombe, LA- Shortly before 3:00 pm this afternoon, troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop L responded to the scene of a fatal crash on Interstate 12 approximately one mile east of LA 434 in St. Tammany Parish.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the crash occurred as a 2012 International 18-wheeler, driven by Marlon Askew, 47, of Lithonia, GA, was slowing to a stop in the left lane of Interstate 12 eastbound due to traffic congestion. As the 18-wheeler slowed, it was rear ended by a 1989 GMC pickup truck driven by William Samuel, 34, of Picayune, MS. Prior to impact, Samuel veered to the left causing the right front corner of the GMC to impact the left rear corner of the 18-wheeler’s rear trailer causing fatal injuries to the GMC’s front right passenger. At the time of the crash, the 18-wheeler was towing double trailers and the GMC pickup truck was towing a utility trailer.
Askew and his passenger, Phyllis Askew, 48, were wearing seatbelts and received no injuries in the crash.
Front right passenger in the GMC pickup, Dennis Morris, 27, of New Iberia, LA, was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office. Samuel was transported to Lakeview Regional Medical Center with minor/moderate injuries. Upon release from Lakeview, he was transported to the St. Tammany Parish Jail booked on charges of Careless Operation and Negligent Homicide. Both Morris and Samuel were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.
Impairment is not suspected to be a factor in the crash with the results of a toxicology exam pending for both drivers at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
The crash remains under investigation; however, troopers suspect that driver distraction was a significant factor in the crash. While the dangers of impaired driving and other aggressive driving behaviors are well documented, driver distraction is quickly becoming one of the largest contributing factors in motor vehicle crashes across the country. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. While distracted driving comes in many forms, from texting and talking on a cell phone, to eating, or simply playing with the radio, the result is often the same.
Troopers urge the public to remain vigilant while driving and avoid distracting activities, especially electronic devices. To report distracted drivers or other hazardous road conditions, motorists can dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you.