Tangipahoa Parish, La — At approximately 8:45 a.m. this morning, all lanes of Interstate 12 near the Robert exit were reopened following an early morning fatal crash between two 18 wheelers. The crash occurred shortly after 2:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 12 approximately one mile east of the LA 445 / Robert exit.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the crash took place as a 2006 Freightliner 18 wheeler, driven by Elmer Fernandez, 40, of Gaithersburg, MD, was accelerating slowly in the eastbound lane of I-12 after merging into traffic from the right shoulder. As the Freightliner continued eastbound at a slow speed, a 2003 Volvo 18 wheeler rapidly approached the slow moving Freightliner from the rear and attempted to pass the slow moving truck on its left side. While attempting to pass the Freightliner, the Volvo impacted the left rear side of the Freightliner’s trailer with its right front corner resulting in the Volvo running off road to the right. Upon leaving the paved roadway, the Volvo 18 wheeler impacted a large tree with its front end becoming fully engulfed in flames as it came to rest in the tree line on the south side of the interstate.
Fernandez was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured in the crash. He submitted to a breath alcohol test showing no detectable signs of alcohol in his system.
The driver of the Volvo 18 wheeler was properly restrained; however, received fatal injuries in the crash. The front passenger in the Volvo was not wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred and was ejected from the vehicle receiving moderate injuries. Alcohol use is not suspected pending the results of a toxicology analysis. Out of state family notification is currently pending for both occupants.
While Troopers continue their investigation into the crash, motorists are urged to remain vigilant while driving under all weather and roadway conditions. Driver attention and focus is especially critical during early morning hours when visibility is limited and driver fatigue is most common. Making poor decisions in a vehicle such as driving while fatigued, driving while distracted, or not wearing a seat belt leads to serious injuries and deaths every day across the state. Making the responsible decision can mean the difference between life and death.
Contact the Louisiana State Police by dialing *LSP or (*577) on your cell phone to report impaired drivers and dangerous roadway conditions.