Northshore judge sentences hit and run driver as 2 children recover

Updated: Dec. 3, 2020 at 4:14 PM CST
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COVINGTON, La. (WVUE) -A year after a driver slammed into two kids riding a bike, a Northshore father got a measure of closure after two of his adopted children were seriously injured.

A judge in Covington sentenced a neighbor to two years home incarceration.

Its Been almost a full year since a dark SUV slammed into 13-year-old Catherine Deroche and her 7-year-old brother Luther as they rode their bike in one of Beau Chene’s bike lanes.

“I said ‘let me be on the safe side and get over in the grass’ and that’s when he hit me,” said Catherine.

The accident caused Catherine to suffer scars that she still wears today. It caused Luther to suffer traumatic head injuries. That night he was airlifted to University Medical Center New Orleans.

“When he got to University, they had to drill a hole in his head to relieve the pressure,” said his father, Tracy Duroche.

As traumatic as the hit-and-run accident was, Catherine had only one thing on her mind in the immediate aftermath.

“I was laying there waiting, people came running up to me and I was like ‘where is my brother,’” said Catherine.

Luther was thrown 20 feet into some bushes.

“He got picked up first. I got the second ambulance, I was so worried about him,” said Catherine.

Several hours later, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a neighbor, 31-year-old Joel Cairnes. He pleaded guilty and this week was given three years probation with two years of home incarceration.

“They were not thrilled with the sentence but they respected the courts decision,” said family attorney Christopher Grace.

This is not the first time this family made it on FOX 8 News.

In 2016, they were featured in a story about how Deroche adopted his children.

At the time, Deroche described the struggles his children, including Luther, had to overcome.

After the accident, Luther must fight another life altering battle.

“I only have headaches,” said Luther.

“Right now he can’t put two and three letter words together and they have had to send him back to first grade to try and get back up to speed,” said his father Tracy.

Catherine faces several surgeries in 2021, as she tries to get back into the sports that she loves.

She says she now avoids bike lanes and is grateful that she and her brother are on the mend.

“I’m just really happy everything’s turning around for us this Christmas,” Catherine said.

The Duroche family says they were overwhelmed by the support they received from first responders, neighbors, and people from as far away as California. They have filed a civil lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver.

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