Tractor driver described as family man who loved Mardi Gras

Tractor driver described as family man who loved Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Carnival tractor driver who police say was killed by an alleged drunk driver is being described as a good husband, father and friend.

Don Dauzat was bringing a float back to a west bank den early Saturday morning when he was hit at Paxton Street and Lapalco Boulevard in Harvey.

Authorities say 54-year-old Michael Burrie of Gretna was driving drunk when he hit Dauzat's tractor with his Ford Explorer. Burrie is booked with driving under the influence, wreckless operation and vehicular homicide.

While Brad Cheeks was busy pulling floats into position for the Nyx parade,  the PFJ tractor driver was mourning the loss of a friend.

"Even though we're not related by blood, we're still family," Cheeks said of Dauzat.

He said Dauzat died doing what he loved. The husband, father of two, avid hunter and good friend drove tractors during Carnival season.

"It was all part time jobs," said friend Jay Dugas. "They drove tractors, they brought floats across the river."

Dauzat was bringing a float from the Excalibur parade early Saturday morning and never made it back home. Dauzat and other tractor drivers dropped off floats at a den on Paxton and then headed back up Paxton on the tractors to pick up their personal cars. That's when tragedy struck.

"At Paxton and Lapalco, a driver under the influence at a high rate of speed ran through the red light and hit Don in the back," Dugas said.

Dugas said Dauzat was a good friend for more than 20 years.

As drivers prepare to roll in more parades, PFJ tractors will carry a special sign of mourning. Black beads will hang from them in Dauzat's honor.

"We put those on yesterday because he passed the night before. We're going to keep them the entire Carnival season," Cheeks said.

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