On March 29, 2023, shortly after 4:00 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop C was notified of a fatality crash involving two vehicles on Louisiana Highway 55 near Ernestine Court. The crash claimed the life of 40-year-old Mercedee Vincent of Chauvin.
The preliminary investigation revealed Don Thibodeaux of Montegut was traveling north on LA Hwy 55 while driving a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer. At the same time, a 1992 Plymouth Voyager steered by Vincent was being towed via a tow strap behind the Trailblazer. As the Trailblazer began to slow down, the Voyager failed to slow also and crossed into the southbound lane to the left of the Trailblazer. The Voyager then suddenly steered to the right and struck the Trailblazer on the driver’s side causing both vehicles to travel off the roadway to the right before overturning.
Thibodeaux, who was not restrained, was ejected from the Trailblazer, suffered critical injuries, and was transported to a New Orleans area hospital for treatment. Vincent was also not restrained in the Voyager, suffered fatal injuries, and died at the scene.
A standard toxicology sample was collected from Thibodeaux and submitted for analysis. This crash remains under investigation.
Louisiana law allows for a vehicle to be towed by another with some requirements. The rope or chain connection between the vehicles shall have a one-square-foot minimum red flag or cloth displayed upon the connection during the day or a red light at night that is visible from at least 500 feet. Additionally, it’s crucial to prioritize safety precautions such as using a strong tow rope attached to designated towing points, ensuring the towed vehicle’s driver can maintain proper control, and keep a safe distance and speed between the vehicles. If you feel unsure or unsafe at any point during the towing process, stop immediately and seek professional assistance.
Troop C has investigated 6 fatal crashes resulting in 7 fatalities in 2023.