Gazette photo by Nancy Duplechain
Unrestrained Driver Killed in Head-On Crash in Evangeline Parish
Mamou – Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on May 20, 2020, Louisiana State Police Troop I was notified of a two-vehicle fatal crash on LA Hwy 13 near Gilbert Road in Evangeline Parish. The crash claimed the life of 31-year-old Joseph Lee Willis of Ville Platte.
The preliminary investigation revealed a 2016 Chevrolet Sonic, driven by Willis, was traveling South on LA 13. At the same time, a 2000 Peterbilt 18-wheeler was traveling North on LA 13. For reasons still under investigation, Willis crossed the center lines into the path of the Peterbilt. The driver of the Peterbilt then took evasive action by steering left. Willis, then, swerved back into the southbound lane and struck the 18-wheeler head-on.
Troopers determined Willis was unrestrained and suffered fatal injuries. He was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Evangeline Parish Coroner’s Office. The driver of the Peterbilt was restrained and was not injured. Toxicology samples were taken from the drivers and results are pending. This crash remains under investigation.
The majority of motorists who die in crashes are not wearing a seat belt. Despite this fact, some people still choose not to take the 3 seconds needed to buckle a seat belt. Louisiana law requires motorists to wear a seat belt in every seating position, front seat and back seat, day and night. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective thing vehicle occupants can do to minimize the risk of injury in the event of a crash. Motorists are encouraged to make the smart choice and to always wear their seat belt.
Troop I has investigated 18 fatal crashes resulting in 21 deaths since the beginning of 2020.