Family, friends mourn four killed in fiery crash as LSP continues investigation

Family, friends mourn four killed in fiery crash as LSP continues investigation
FOX 8 photo

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - As Louisiana State Police continue the investigation into Saturday's multiple car pile-up on Interstate 12 that killed four people, some mourn those who were lost.

"I came out here to put a flag out just because this was my neighbor," said Covington resident David Mastrianni. "They were just the nicest people."

Mastrianni used to live next door to Baton Rouge residents Yolanda Simmons and her two sons Keland and Keon.

"I'm just reaching out to Keon. Keon is the sweetest kid. He's awesome, very talented," said Mastrianni.

It comes after Yolanda and her older son Keland were killed in the fiery crash on I-12 eastbound near LA 21.

"They were so kind to everybody and I'm not saying that just because they died. I'm saying that because they really, truly were," Mastrianni explained.

It all started at around four, Saturday afternoon, with a truck carrying avocados.

"We do know traffic was coming to a stop or was stopped on the interstate due to congestion and that 18-wheeler started a chain reaction with those other nine vehicles when that 18-wheeler was not able to stop," said Louisiana State Trooper Melissa Matey.

Yolanda and her son were in the car in front of that 18-wheeler and died on scene. So did the driver of that truck. Another woman, driving an SUV was rushed to the hospital, but succumbed to her injuries.

Several others were hurt in the crash, including a St. Tammany Sheriff's deputy. He's expected to be okay.

"It's very, very scary. A lot of people travel that road and my condolences to those families who lost loved ones in that accident. It's always tough when you witness or experience anything like that," said driver Brad Lasalle. "Hopefully, eventually, we can widen the roads or something to cut down on traffic."

Other Covington locals say, it's all about keeping your eyes on the road.

"I think it's people not paying attention and looking down and driving erratically," said Bronwyn Gibson.

"I think people should stop using their phones as much and just focus on driving. It would be better for us, for everybody else," said Gibson's daughter Brynn.

Meanwhile, Mastrianni looks over what's left of the wreckage, burned grass and charred avocado, as he comes to grips with a new reality.

"I can't believe that smoke was my neighbor. You can look at this. It's just a horrible death," said Mastrianni. "It just hits home to a point where you go, 'okay, all the crap that's happening in my life doesn't matter.'"

While Louisiana State Police say toxicology reports are pending, they say impairment does not appear to be a factor in the crash.

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