Grandfather killed, 8-year-old girl in ICU after head-on crash in Marrero

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:09 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2022 at 9:42 AM CDT
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MARRERO, La. (WVUE) - One person is dead and two people were injured, including an eight-year-old girl who is in critical condition, after police say an impaired driver struck their vehicle head-on.

The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 21 at the intersection of Ames Boulevard and Trinity Drive in Marrero, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Fatal crash in Marrero
Fatal crash in Marrero

The crash claimed the life of 65-year-old Rene Zeigler of Marrero.

Sheriff Joseph Lopinto says a pickup truck, driven by 31-year-old Joseph Britton of Gretna, was traveling southbound on Ames Blvd. when it crossed the center line and struck Zeigler’s sedan head-on.

Zeigler was pronounced dead at the scene. His granddaughter Riley remains in the ICU. Zeigler’s family says their lives have been changed forever.

“I do not know what it is to lose a husband,” Ziegler’s wife, Melanie Burns says. “I’m scared for my granddaughter because I do not know if she’s going to be alright in the end. I do not know.”

Melanie says she and Rene were on their way home from taking Riley to get a snowball when Britton’s truck crossed the center line and struck them head-on.

“When it hit it was all over,” Burns says. “I was the first one to get out the car and when I got out it was like I don’t know what was going on because I couldn’t breathe and I just collapsed.”

Deputies arrested 31-year-old Joseph Britton of Gretna, who is accused of driving while...
Deputies arrested 31-year-old Joseph Britton of Gretna, who is accused of driving while intoxicated and crossing the center line, striking Zeigler's sedan head-on.(WVUE/Family)

In that moment, Burns says she reached for her husband but he was already gone. Riley suffered multiple injuries, including two broken legs. Burns says the hardest part will be finding the words to say to her granddaughter about Zeigler’s passing.

“That was his girl and that was her guy. Riley asked... Rene tried his best to give,” Burns says. “They made their memories. She has her memories of him. They had fun. They enjoyed each other.”

Deputies arrested Britton after he was released from the hospital. He is facing charges of vehicular homicide, two counts of first-degree negligent injuring, second offense DWI, reckless operation, and driving without a license.

Britton’s DNA was submitted for a blood alcohol content test to determine the level of suspected intoxication.

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