State trooper’s handling of two suspected DWI crashes under investigation
Two crashes involving young victims and potentially drunk drivers may have been mishandled by the same North Shore trooper
MADISONVILLE, La. (WVUE) - An internal investigation has been launched into the handling of two suspected DUI crashes within 48 hours by a Louisiana State Police trooper.
Karen Davis says she is concerned about the trooper’s handling of an Easter Sunday crash that she believes could have killed her two teenage daughters.
“We heard it. We were outside,” Davis said. “I thought ‘I can’t believe it.’ A few feet either way... it could’ve been a deadly outcome.”
The crash involved a collision between her daughters’ truck and a Hyundai Santa Fe at the intersection of Highway 1085 and Hano Road in Madisonville. The Hyundai ended up flipped over in a ditch.
Davis alleges that there were witness accounts and evidence suggesting drunk driving, but she was shocked to discover that the Hyundai driver, 22-year-old Marley Ellis, had only initially been booked with careless operation.
“We called the next day to find out why,” she recalled. “We were told she was impaired, but was not given a sobriety test.”
The investigation into the crash was conducted by LSP Trooper Brett Dupre, but it was later transferred to State Police Sergeant Derek Clark.
Four days after the incident, Clark obtained a court order for a hospital blood test, which revealed that Ellis had a blood alcohol level of .289.
“After contacting Dupre’s superiors, they saw body cam footage and found she was three times over the limit,” David said.
An arrest warrant for DUI was issued 17 days after the crash and Ellis was taken into custody.
The night before, Dupre assisted in investigating a suspected drunk driving crash that sent 23-year-old Seth Klaare into a coma.
Klaare was originally found to be at fault but the police report was reversed after his father found surveillance video which lead to the DUI arrest and firing of former Franklinton police officer Leonard Holloway two weeks later.
Trooper Dupre has been reassigned pending an internal investigation.
More: Video evidence prompted LSP to reverse report on drunken crash involving former Franklinton officer
With two daughters just starting to drive, Davis says she’s extremely concerned about the trooper’s actions and believes there is an ongoing issue with drunk driving.
“It’s so close to home,” Davis said. “This could’ve gone so wrong.”
The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says DUI enforcement in St. Tammany Parish is generally better than in other parts of the state, but they note that concerning trends persist.
“Typically if there’s detection of impairment, we would hope for a field sobriety test,” said Sunny Wall with MADD.
Ellis has since been released from jail on a $2,500 bond.
*Editor’s note: Fox 8 incorrectly identified a deputy as being involved with the investigation of one of these crashes. The deputy’s name has since been removed.
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