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Lawsuits filed in Stringer Bridge Road fatal crash

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POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013 - 5:48pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 10:05am

The fathers of two little girls killed in a deadly crash in St. Amant say in separate lawsuits the DOTD and Ascension Parish are partially to blame for the accident.

The fathers of Faith Castilaw and Patience Lobell filed separate suits in the 23 Judicial District Court in the past four months.

They think officials knew Stringer Bridge Road was dangerous, but didn't do anything to help protect drivers.

In february 2012, the girls' mom lost control of her car, ran off the road and into the bayou, where both girls drowned.

The state attorney general's office represents the DOTD. It would not comment on the lawsuits. Lawyers for Ascension Parish did not return our calls.

People living in the area say the road isn't the problem. They say people need to pay better attention to speed limits.

"The curve has been there for many years. All the local people drive it everyday. As far as we know, none of the local people have ever gone in the bayou," Carol Frederic, who lives off Stringer Bridge Road, explained. "It's just people not paying attention to what they are doing at the time."

Frederic watches drivers from her yard as they cruise around the curves on stringer bridge road. She's seen 8 cars go into the water over the years. She says the new lawsuits are helping the community.

"I think people are trying to make something out of this that not conducive to what is happening here," Frederic said. "I do not believe that the state is at fault. I do not believe the parish is at fault. "

"I drive down this road every morning. You know, I've never had a problem with it."

Jan Avara lives off Stringer Bridge Road.

"I drive down this road every morning. You know, I've never had a problem with it," Avara described.

He says people speed and don't pay attention. He gets nervous when his kids play near the road.

"I mean it makes you worry. I mean anything can happen somebody loses control of their vehicle or anything there is nothing to stop them from coming over here and running him over," Avara stated.

Frederic says there is a stretch of Stringer Bridge Rd. between two curves that doesn't have enough shoulder. She wants to see guard rails go up around the area.

"If an accident does happen a guard rail would possibly keep them from going into the bayou," Frederic said.

Others, like Avara, say that may not be enough to save lives.

"If you're going fast enough to run off the road or lose control a guard rail is not going to do to much to help you," Avara explained.

Lauren Lee with the DOTD, said the department did a road safety assessment of Stringer Bridge Road. The department was able to determine short term goals of " Installing additional signage, Placing reflective tape on curve warning sign posts, DOTD's district traffic office conducted a speed study. The results of the study concluded that the posted speed limit is appropriate for the roadway."

The DOTD is considering adding guard rails in the future, but Lee says it's a long term goal. DOTD workers would have to widen the existing shoulder before rails could be added.

The final results of the road safety assessment will be released this summer.

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