Posts tagged ‘state police’

Driver killed in single-car crash Thursday

published Oct. 15, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
One person died Thursday in a single-vehicle crash that happened at about 8:25 p.m. on Interstate 10 East just west of Sulphur, near mile marker 16, state police said.

The driver, who was pronounced dead at the scene, wasn’t identified late Thursday because family members hadn’t been notified, officials said.

Sgt. James Anderson said the person’s identity and details about the crash would be released later today.

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October 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Trooper: Contraflow governor’s last resort

*published Sept. 23, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
Since Hurricane Rita struck Southwest Louisiana five years ago, officers say a lot has changed.

“During Rita, we didn’t have a set contraflow plan on file. We certainly didn’t plan for Texas to evacuate through our area,” said state police Sgt. Michael Edgar, a patrol shift supervisor.

Troopers were stationed along Interstate 10 to make sure traffic was flowing well.

“We decided early on that we were not going to actually investigate any crashes unless they were injury crashes. We’d just go and make sure they exchanged information,” Edgar said.

Troopers with gas cans were also stationed along the highway.

“After Rita, it didn’t take long to develop a contraflow plan,” Edgar said. “Up until then, we didn’t really think we needed it.”

Officials looked at afteraction reports, southeast Louisiana’s contraflow plan and met with DOTD officials.

“Contraflow is always a means of last resort that can only be implemented at the direction of the governor because it’s so manpower intensive,” Lt. Tim LeFleur said.

Working with other area law enforcement agencies, troopers would have to block off 32 exits and direct all traffic north and east.

Since the plan was developed, the state has never had to implement contraflow on any major highways.

*main story

Since Rita hit, U.S. 171 and U.S. 165 have been widened to four lanes through Shreveport and Interstate 10 has been widened to six lanes.

“Contraflow is only if we need to move a lot of people in a short time, and here in Southwest Louisiana, that’s not a problem,” Sgt. Ross McCain said. “We usually evacuate in stages, starting with Cameron Parish. That keeps the roads from being so congested.”

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said calling for an evacuation is always the hardest decision to make.

“I don’t know if people will always be so willing to evacuate. For Rita, the destruction from Katrina was fresh on their minds,” Mancuso said.

He said he understands that leaving costs money and encouraged people to be ready and have a little money saved.

“The sad part is we could tell them to leave and the storm side swipes us, causing minimal damage, but that’s kind of a chance we have to take living here,” he said.

Contraflow maps are available at State Police Troop D at 805 Main St.

link: http://bit.ly/c8zOFj

September 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Three in LC face steroid charges

*published Sept. 10, 2010
State and federal authorities on Thursday arrested four people — three in Lake Charles and one in Baton Rouge — who officials say were part of a “significant” steroid-distribution ring throughout south Louisiana.

During the arrests, officials reportedly seized about $80,000 in cash, more than 300 vials of steroids and two weapons, and they dismantled two labs they said were used to manufacture steroids.

In Lake Charles, officials arrested Jordan Berza, 26, Bryce Meaux, 23, and Christopher Gass, 24.

Gass was charged with possession of a Schedule III drug with intent to distribute. Berza and Meaux were charged with possession with intent and with possession of a weapon while engaged in a drug crime and with running a clandestine lab.

In Baton Rouge, officials arrested Terry Kuykendall, 24, on a charge of possession with intent to distribute.

The investigation into the ring began earlier this year, said state police Sgt. James Anderson.

Kuykendall was reportedly the distributor of the drugs, while Gass, Meaux and Berza were getting the steroids shipped in from China.

link: http://bit.ly/aBbCYe

September 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Expect active season

It’s that time of year; what’s your game plan?

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

State officials were in Southwest Louisiana on Monday to meet with local sheriffs to discuss what is expected to be a busy hurricane season.

“We mainly want to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said after speaking with state police head Col. Mike Edmonson.

The first named storm, Alex, entered the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday as a tropical depression, but has since developed into a tropical storm with winds near 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“We’re not sure what’s going to happen with this storm, and if it stays on the current path, we’ll still be dealing with some lingering effects,” Mancuso said.

Edmonson said he is spending the week talking to sheriffs and emergency preparedness directors in coastal parishes.

“Right now, there’s only a 5 to 10 percent chance the storm will hit this area, but we like to be proactive,” he said.

“We’re already seeing a deviation from the norm with a storm this early,” said Mark Cooper, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“Residents need to make sure they have an evacuation plan for their families and elderly neighbors.”

“No matter what, don’t wait until the last minute,” Mancuso said. “My philosophy is, ‘If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.’ Once it’s in the Gulf, there’s a chance it can come this way.”

“When we start ordering evacuations, residents need to also have a set place or places to go and make sure they have food and water in their car,” Edmonson said.

Cooper said he’s confident the entire state is prepared for a busy season, even with the oil spill. He said officials have met with BP and the U.S. Coast Guard to review emergency plans.

Lessons learned
State and local officials learned much during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said Mancuso and Edmonson.

“Rita showed us our vulnerabilities on fuel and power,” Mancuso said. “We set up our own fuel supply, and for power we have backups for the backups.”

For evacuations, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness officials have specific shelters for residents, whom they transport by bus.

“We will also be sending a 10- to-12-man team to those shelters, so it’s less of a burden on the local authorities,” Mancuso said.

Cooper said state officials have increased shelter capacity from 11,000 in 2009 to about 24,000 statewide, as well as set up shelter agreements in other states.

“Our Get A Game Plan website has instructions and video on how to put together an evacuation plan,” Cooper said. He also explained the Louisiana Earth Google map feature. It was initially tracking the oil spill, but Cooper said it also has evacuation routes and shelter locations.

“Since 2005, we have been using state and federal money to make sure all first responders are on the 700 MHz digital radio system,” Edmonson said.

The system allows for statewide communication between most first responders and is considered more reliable during disasters.

SW La. does it right
Edmonson and Cooper both praised Southwest Louisiana residents for their actions during hurricane season.

“I’ve said it before: If you want to look at the way to do things right, look to Southwest Louisiana,” Edmonson said. “We could have initiated the contraflow during Gustav and Ike, but there was no reason. People left when we told them to.”

He said that initiating contraflow requires a lot of manpower and can require about 300 men in Southwest Louisiana if Texas evacuees must travel through.

“During the last storm, they left it up to us to call it, and I constantly meet with the mayors and police chiefs to get their input,” Mancuso said.

He said he always reminds residents that there is a point when officers are pulled off the streets because of weather, and that people who stay during a mandatory evacuation may not be able to get help.

“It’s a bad feeling because our job is to help,” Mancuso said. “But we just need people to trust that we’re going to protect this community and sometimes that means telling them to leave.”


Online: http://www.getagameplan.org; http://www.laearth.la.gov.
To see the Get a Game Plan public service announcement, go to
www.americanpress.com

link: http://bit.ly/dp5gCs

June 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Seat belt and child restraint advocates: Enforcement important part of prevention

*published May 21, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

This fact is clear: There is a correlation between surviving a traffic accident and wearing a seat belt.

According to a state university study, 64 percent of all drivers killed in Louisiana automobile crashes in 2008 weren’t wearing seat belts.

“Less than 1 percent of belted occupants were killed in accidents during that year,” John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said Wednesday at a seminar for law officers. The event focused on the importance of issuing seat belt and child restraint citations.

The study, by the Highway Safety Research Group at Louisiana State University, also found that higher fines increase seat belt use.

Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers found that increasing the fine for not wearing a seat belt to over $100 could increase seat belt use by about 8 percent.

Current Louisiana law says violators are subject to a $25 fine for a first offense, $50 for a second offense and $50, plus court costs, for subsequent violations.

LeBlanc said he plans to use the data to lobby for a fine increase during the 2012 legislative session.

Other data from the study showed that the lack of seat belt use in Louisiana resulted in crash costs of more than $1.2 billion in 2008 — about $432 for every licensed driver in the state.

Tammy Ryden, in telling the story of her daughter, said law officers should understand that seat belt and child restraint citations aren’t minor tickets. “The driver was a 40-year-old adult, and he didn’t make my daughter buckle up,” she said.

Ryden is the Region 6 spokeswoman for the NHTSA’s Teen Seat Belt Project. Her 15-year-old daughter, Rachel, was killed in February 1999 when she was ejected from a truck after a head-on collision. None of the vehicle’s three occupants was wearing a seat belt.

“Her boyfriend’s father (the driver) said they just never wore seat belts,” Ryden said. “I truly believe she would have survived the crash if she was wearing her seat belt.”

Ryden said the second vehicle rolled over up to eight times, but that three of its four occupants were restrained and walked away from the accident. The unbelted occupant was ejected but survived and spent about six months in the hospital.

Ryden said she always made her daughter and other two children buckle up when they rode with her, but that she didn’t stress to them that they should wear a seat belt no matter who they were riding with.

“Her boyfriend and his father didn’t buckle up and didn’t say anything, so it probably never came to mind,” she said.

“Her death was so senseless and so preventable, and I think any parent who loses a child in that way, the most we can hope for is that death counts for something and matters.”

More local statistics
Louisiana remains below the national average in seat belt use. The latest state highway commission data, from 2008, show the national average is 82 percent and Louisiana’s is 75.5 percent.

In the Lake Charles region — Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard and Jeff Davis parishes — seat belt use is below the state average, at 72.5 percent.

This was a slight improvement from 71.3 percent in 2007.

In 2007, 993 people were killed on Louisiana highways. Of those, 494 weren’t wearing seat belts.

That same year, 30 people were killed in traffic accidents in Calcasieu Parish. Of them, 16 were unbelted.

In 2009, Calcasieu Parish had 41 accident fatalities, with 18 of those victims unrestrained.

link: http://bit.ly/9gdyEr

May 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

LC woman killed in I-10 crash

*published Oct. 19, 2009

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
A Lake Charles woman died after being ejected from a vehicle in a Sunday afternoon accident on Interstate 10, according to State Police Troop D.

At around 2:30 p.m., Sharon Guidry, 42, of Lake Charles lost control of her utility vehicle when a tire blew out as she was traveling west between Vinton and Sulphur, said Trooper Stephen LaFargue.

She ran off the road, stuck a sign and flipped several times.

One of Guidry’s passengers, Courtney Guidry, 21, also of Lake Charles, was not wearing her seat belt and was ejected. She was pronounced dead upon arrival at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

The driver and three other passengers were taken to Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

link: http://bit.ly/3XU5Oe

October 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Lightning leaves 14,000 powerless

State Police report 10 accidents in 40-minute period Monday evening
*published July 7, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Lake Charles went dark Monday evening as a series of lightning strikes left about 14,000 people without power, an Entergy official said.

“We estimated somewhere near a dozen lightning strikes blew out transmission lines and transformers at multiple power stations throughout the parish,” said Sheila Pounders, an Entergy customer service manager.

Strong thunderstorms began to blanket the area at about 7 p.m., causing issues for some first responders.

State police reported about 10 crashes of varying degrees in a 40-minute period. Officials blamed the heavy rain for the influx of accidents.

Lake Charles police and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office dispatchers said their agencies handled nothing out of the ordinary.

The Lake Charles Fire Department reportedly dealt with about a dozen false calls caused by fire and home alarms that were triggered as power flickered.

Pounders said technicians were out working as soon as the rain stopped and would work through the night.

As of 10 p.m., 8,371 people in Calcasieu Parish remained without power, she said.

article link: http://bit.ly/9Z0pi

July 7, 2009 at 2:03 am Leave a comment

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