Unrestrained passenger dies in I-10 blowout accident

Staff Reports

A tire blowout on Interstate 10 east of US Hwy 61 claimed the life of an unrestrained passenger in the vehicle Friday night, State Police spokesman Russell Graham reported.

Troopers reported that two of the three passengers in the 2003 Honda Odyssey were wearing seatbelts, but that a third passenger who was riding in the right side middle seat was unrestrained.

Akisha Smith, 19, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Ascension Parish Coroner’s Office, Graham said.

Trooper investigation revealed that Deanna Johnson, 19, of Baton Rouge, was driving the Honda west on I-10 when the right rear tire blew out.

Graham said Johnson lost control of the vehicle, ran off the roadway to the right, and the Odyssey began rotating counter-clockwise before striking several trees on its right side.

Johnson sustained minor injuries and was transported by Acadian Ambulance to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales.

The front seat passenger, Marquisha Johns, 19, of New Orleans, sustained minor to moderate injuries and was also transported to St. Elizabeth, according to Graham.

Alcohol is not suspected to have been a factor in the crash, but troopers routinely submit driver samples to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for chemical analysis.

Graham said troopers will submit their completed investigation to the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review, and that charges may be forthcoming.

The Louisiana Legislature passed a law last year requiring all occupants of motor vehicles to wear a seatbelt while riding public roadways.