Four killed in crash that closed I-12 for hours

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

On May 26, at approximately 4 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop L was notified of a multi-vehicle crash on I-12 east at LA 21. The crash involved 10 vehicles and resulted in four fatalities.

Initial on-scene evidence and Troopers’ preliminary investigation revealed that traffic was stopped or slowing to a stop on I-12 east at LA 21 due to congestion. An 18-wheeler hauling avocados was traveling in the right lane on I-12 approaching the traffic congestion. For unknown reasons, the 18-wheeler was unable to stop and started a chain reaction crash with nine other vehicles. The 18-wheeler jackknifed during the crash and caught fire, along with three other vehicles. The driver of the 18-wheeler died on the scene and positive identification has yet to be confirmed.

During the crash, a 2014 Lexus IS350 was struck by the 18-wheeler. The driver and passenger, Yoland Simmons and Keland Simmons of Baton Rouge, were pronounced dead on the scene. A 1997 Toyota 4Runner was also struck by the 18-wheeler and the driver, Rachel Lehmann of Mandeville, was taken to the hospital where she later died.

Several individuals were taken to local hospitals with minor/moderate injuries, including a St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy. All injured parties are expected to make a full recovery. Impairment has not yet been determined. Toxicology results are pending an autopsy. I-12 east reopened at approximately 2 a.m. on May, 27. The crash investigation remains very active and on-going.

Contributed by Louisiana State Police