Troopers suspect pregnant driver's impairment caused serious crash

Staff reports

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana State Police suspect a pregnant St. Amant woman was impaired and caused several occupants' injuries in a head-on crash this morning near the Ascension Parish line, according to Trooper Russell Graham.

Just before 8 a.m. 30-year-old Nicole M. Richard was driving a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo west on Hwy. 22 when it struck a 2003 Ford pickup head-on at the top of the Diversion Canal bridge, Graham reported.

The crash left Richard, who is pregnant, seriously injured, Graham said.

Two children, ages 6 and 1, were not properly restrained and were also injured, he said.

A third passenger, 26-year-old David Muliana of St. Amant, was in the front seat and was not wearing a seatbelt, Graham reported. Muliana also sustained serious injuries.

The driver of the pickup, 26-year-old Byron L. Jones of Denham Springs, was properly restrained and came away with minor to moderate injuries, Graham said.

Responders brought Richard to a Baton Rouge hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition, according to Graham.

State Police charged Richard with DWI/child endangerment, negligent injury, driving left of center, driving under suspension and two counts of improper child restraint. Drug impairment is suspected to be a factor also, Graham said, and Richard's blood has been submitted to the State Police Crime Lab for chemical analysis.

Graham said Richard may face more charges, pending the results of the analysis.

He noted that alcohol is not the only substance that impairs drivers. He said illegal drugs, prescription medication and some over-the-counter medications can cause impairment.

Driving while impaired is not only dangerous, but illegal, he said.

Troopers will arrest any driver they suspect of driving while impaired, he added.