Four deaths, multiple injuries reported in I-12 crash

FOX 8 photo
FOX 8 photo

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - A multiple-vehicle crash, that closed one side of Interstate 12 in Covington, has left four people dead and others injured. The crash, which involved two 18-wheelers and multiple vehicles, occurred Saturday afternoon on I-12 at Highway 21.

The crash happened at approximately 4 p.m. on I-12 near LA 21.

Investigators say traffic was stopped or slowing to a stop on I-12 due to congestion when an 18-wheeler traveling in the right lane was unable to stop for unknown reasons. The 18-wheeler started a chain reaction crash with nine other vehicles.

During the crash, the 18-wheeler jackknifed and caught fire along with three other vehicles.

The driver of the 18-wheeler died at the scene. The driver's identity has not been confirmed.

A 2014 Lexus IS350 was struck by the 18-wheeler during the crash. The driver and passenger in the vehicle, Yoland Simmons and Keland Simmons of Baton Rouge, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of a 1997 Toyota 4Runner that was also struck by the 18-wheeler, Rachel Lehmann of Mandeville, was taken to a local hospital where she later died.

State Police say several other individuals were taken to area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to moderate. All are expected to make a full recovery.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed that one of the injured in the crash is a St. Tammany deputy.

"My heart goes out to the families that have been impacted by this tragedy, and we will work diligently to positively identify the victims and notify the families in a timely manner," St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said. "I am praying for the safety of all travelers on this Memorial Day weekend and encourage extra caution on our congested roadways."

Impairment has not yet been determined to be a factor in the crash. Toxicology tests are pending.

The crash remains under investigation.

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