Harvey teen struck, killed on I-55 by accused impaired driver arrested in Ponchatoula

Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 1:08 PM CDT
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RUDDOCK, La. (WVUE) - An 18-year-old Harvey man was struck and killed along I-55 late Friday (Aug. 25), by an allegedly impaired driver who fled the scene but was arrested in Ponchatoula, the Louisiana State Police said.

Troopers tracked down a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche that witnesses said struck and fatally injured Mohammad Zidan, and booked 37-year-old Lawrence Darensburg of Jefferson with vehicular homicide, felony hit-and-run, driving while impaired (second offense) and other traffic-related offenses.

Darensburg was booked into the St. John the Baptist Parish jail a short time after the fatal highway crash, after troopers spotted his vehicle and apprehended him about 17 miles away in Ponchatoula.

According to Louisiana State Police, the driver of a 2021 Nissan Titan was feeling ill just before midnight, and pulled over on the shoulder of northbound I-55 near the Ruddock exit to change seats with Zidan and let the teen start driving.

But as Zidan opened the driver’s side door to get behind the wheel, the truck Darensburg was driving veered onto the shoulder, striking Zidan and the Nissan before speeding on northbound on I-55, the LSP said.

Police said Zidan was pronounced dead at the scene. The original driver he was replacing required hospital treatment for minor injuries and a third passenger in the Nissan was unharmed, authorities said.

“As part of the continued investigation, Darensburg was determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the crash,” state police said in a statement.

Vehicular homicide in Louisiana is punishable by a prison term of 5 to 30 years upon conviction. Penalties can escalate if an impaired driver’s blood alcohol concentration is determined to have been 0.20 or higher, designating the offense as a crime of violence under state law.

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