State Troopers join Ascension Sheriff Deputies in chase; man ejected from vehicle

Staff reports

Louisiana State Police assisted the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office last night in a vehicle pursuit that began on Interstate 10 and ended when the fleeing vehicle rolled over several times on Hwy 73 near Hwy 61 in Ascension Parish.  Troopers and Deputies pursued the vehicle for approximately ten minutes before the impaired, unrestrained driver crashed and was ejected from his vehicle.

Shortly after midnight last night, Troopers and Ascension Parish Deputies were dispatched to a report of a single vehicle crash on Interstate 10 westbound near Hwy 73.  An Ascension Parish Deputy was the first to arrive at the scene, where he observed a white Pontiac Firebird parked on the shoulder with its hazard lights activated.  The Deputy pulled in behind the Firebird and activated his emergency lights, and the Firebird accelerated away headed westbound on Interstate 10 at a high rate of speed.  Deputies pursued the Firebird westbound on Interstate 10 and exited onto Highland Road, where State Troopers joined in the pursuit.  The Firebird continued south on Old Perkins Road, traveled through Santa Maria subdivision, back onto Old Perkins Road, and straight across Hwy 61 in Prairieville.  While in Santa Maria, the vehicle struck several mailboxes causing property damage and ran two vehicles off the roadway.  The Firebird then traveled south on Old Jefferson Highway (Hwy 73), crossed Hwy 42, and continued south toward Hwy 61.  The driver, later identified as John Michelli Jr. (W/M, age 46) of Gonzales, lost control of the vehicle as he approached Hwy 61 and overturned several times. Michelli was not restrained at the time of the crash and was ejected as the vehicle overturned.  He sustained serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Troopers suspect impairment and speed to have played a role in the crash.  Michelli will be booked into the Ascension Parish Jail upon his release from the hospital.  He faces charges of Aggravated Flight From an Officer, Reckless Operation, Aggravated Obstruction of Highway, DWI, Reckless Operation, Careless Operation, Hit and Run, and No Seat Belt.

Troopers and Deputies see poor decisions caused by impairment on and off the roadway regularly.  Law enforcement officers continuously work together to ensure that impaired drivers are removed from our roadways before they kill or injure others or themselves.  Impaired drivers cause fatal and serious injury crashes across our state year after year.  Although the number of fatal crashes caused by impaired drivers has decreased in recent years, Troopers and Deputies will continue to enforce the state’s DWI and aggressive driving laws in an effort to see this trend continue.  Through the combination of education and enforcement, law enforcement agencies intend to continue to lower the instances of impaired driving and increase the instances of seat belt use.