ST. CHARLES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A Louisiana State Trooper, responding to a fatal accident on Interstate 10, was injured after being hit by a drunk driver, police say. The incident occurred at 1:45 a.m. on I-10 westbound near mile marker 219 over the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish.
According to police, the earlier incident that the trooper was responding to, occurred at 1 a.m. In that incident a man, identified as Louis R. Hernandez, of Meridian, MS, was driving a car west on I-10 when he pulled over to the right side of the roadway to urinate. After he got out of the car, Hernandez began walking on or near the right lane/right shoulder of the road, police say. As he was walking, a pickup truck driven by 42-year-old Joel Ybarra of Little Rock, AR was approaching and swerved to miss hitting Hernandez but police say instead he struck Hernandez's car from behind.
Police say that the passenger in Hernandez's car, identified as 21-year-old, David E. Vasquez-Dueno of Houma, was not wearing his seat belt and suffered fatal injuries as a result of the crash. Ybarra was transported to University Hospital with critical injuries. Investigators suspect that Ybarra was impaired at the time of the incident and they are unsure if he was wearing his seat belt. He was arrested for vehicular homicide and careless operation. Charges are pending for Hernandez, police say.
When the trooper responded to the scene to assist with the investigation, he had the lights on his fully-marked car activated as he began to slow down in order to pull ahead of the other emergency vehicles on scene. As the trooper maneuvered his vehicle, his unit was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by 34-year-old James F. Osborne IV of Baton Rouge. Police say that the trooper was wearing his seat belt and transported to St. Charles Hospital with minor injuries. Investigators learned that Osborne was impaired and had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08%. Osborne was arrested and booked with DWI, reckless operation and vehicular negligent injuring. The crash remains under investigation.