Prairieville man dies after being hit by a suspected impaired driver in Ascension Parish

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Aug. 4, Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop A began investigating a fatal crash involving two vehicles and a pedestrian on La. 42 west of La. 44 in Ascension Parish.  The crash took the life of 18-year-old Richard Billingsley, Jr of Prairieville.

The initial investigation by State Police revealed that the crash occurred as 20-year-old Ambar Hicks of Prairieville, was traveling eastbound on La. 42 in 2005 Mazda Tribute. Billingsley was a passenger in the vehicle. Hicks’s vehicle began having mechanical issues and became disabled in the roadway. Hicks activated her emergency flashers and steered the vehicle as Billingsley pushed it out of the roadway. At the same time, 41-year-old J Thomas Bowers of Baton Rouge, was traveling eastbound on La. 42. Bowers failed to stop his vehicle and struck Billingsley as he was pushing the Mazda Tribute.

Billingsley sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash and was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Ascension Parish Coroner’s Office. Hicks received minor injuries and was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital. Impairment is not suspected to be a factor on the part of Hicks and Billingsley. A toxicology sample was taken from Hicks and will be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. Toxicology results for Billingsley are pending an autopsy.

Bowers was unrestrained during the crash but did not receive any injuries. Impairment and speed are suspected to be factors in the crash on the part of Bowers. Troopers placed Bowers under arrest for Driving While Intoxicated. Bowers refused to submit to a chemical breath test for intoxication. Troopers had to transport Bowers to St. Elizabeth Hospital where a toxicology sample was taken and will be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. Bowers was placed under arrest and booked into the Ascension Parish Jail for Driving While Intoxicated Second Offense, Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Negligent Injuring, Reckless Operation, Open Container, Speeding and No Seatbelt.

Louisiana State Troopers wish to remind motorists that impaired driving continues to be a major problem throughout Louisiana. Whether impaired through alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, the consequences of driving while impaired remain the same. Making good choices while in motor vehicles such as never driving while impaired, always ensuring every occupant is properly restrained, and avoiding all distractions can often mean the difference between life and death.