LIVINGSTON — If you stop by the G&J Drive Inn on U.S. 190 in Livingston on a regular basis, chances are you’ve seen Malcolm or Johnice Sibley there.
Dennis Cutrer, who has managed the restaurant for about 10 years, says Malcolm Sibley drops in about once or twice a month, and that his wife, Johnice, arrives about once a week to pick up food for their grandchildren.
“He’s an outstanding guy,” Cutrer said of Malcolm Sibley. “He’s very friendly. He’ll help you any way he can.”
Cutrer’s words echo other statements made about Malcolm Sibley, the Livingston Parish School Board president since 2011, since his arrest Sunday in a fatal hit-and-run in St. Helena Parish early Saturday.
But Sibley now is in the spotlight after he allegedly hit and killed William Iasigi, 21, of Liberty, Miss., in a crash in which some key details are still missing.
Iasigi had stopped the 2008 Chevrolet pickup he was driving on La. 43 in St. Helena Parish after he and a passenger began arguing, State Police have said.
That’s when Iasigi was struck by a 2012 GMC 2500 pickup, allegedly belonging to Sibley.
State Police have said investigators still have not determined what Sibley was doing in the area at the time.
Sibley, 65, of Walker, is set to return to court Aug. 2 after he was booked into the St. Helena Parish Jail with one count of felony hit-and-run. He was released after posting a $500 cash bond.
Trooper 1st Class Nick Manale, a State Police spokesman, declined further comment Wednesday about the crash, citing the pending investigation.
State Police have said troopers’ full crash report would take about four to six weeks to process.
Malcolm Sibley was born June 24, 1947, in Denham Springs. He is a 1965 graduate of Doyle High School and a 1969 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University.
Sibley married Johnice Diane Duffy in 1967 in Livingston, according to their marriage license.
Sibley and his wife have three children — Leann LaVergne, Kendall Sibley and Jo Lynn Hegwood, according to old newspaper accounts.
Sibley and his family run a Walker-based timber company known as K.S. Timber Co. Originally founded as Sibco Timber Co., the company was renamed K.S. Timber in 1998, according to a charter filed in the Livingston Clerk of Court’s Office.
A check of Sibley’s criminal history in Livingston shows no record — not even a speeding ticket.
Family members of Sibley have declined to comment, referring all questions to attorney Sherman Mack.
Mack said Sibley is a good man who cares for his family and is dedicated to his duties as president of the School Board.
“He’s just a leader in that part of rural Livingston Parish,” he said.
Mack said Sibley is still “clearly upset” about the crash.
He said Sibley also is awaiting completion of the State Police investigation into the hit-and-run case before he makes any public comments.
Mack has declined to say why Sibley drove away from the scene after the fatal crash, or what he was doing driving in the area around 5 a.m., but that Sibley was not intoxicated.
Rodney Miller, 58, manages his family’s string of stores on U.S. 190 near G&N Drive Inn.
Miller said he has known Sibley all of his life, and that his parents are good friends with Sibley’s parents.
“Everything he’s ever told me, he did,” Miller said. “He’s never lied to me.”
Miller said Sibley has been convicted in the court of public opinion ever since his arrest on Sunday.
Miller said he imagines Sibley was in St. Helena for work related to his timber company. He said Sibley always wakes up early to take care of business.
Miller said he believes Sibley would have stopped his truck had he known he hit someone.
“It was very unfortunate for Malcolm, but it was also unfortunate for that young man,” he said.
Sibley, a Democrat from Walker, won his first election to the board in 1994. He lost his seat to Clint Mitchell in 2006 but regained it in 2010.
Sibley represents the School Board’s District 1, which includes Doyle High, Doyle Elementary, Frost School, North Corbin Elementary, North Corbin Junior High and half of Holden.
School Board members have defended Sibley’s character since his arrest.
Milton Hughes, a Livingston School Board member since 1972 and close friend of Sibley’s, said Tuesday that Sibley is “as good as any member we’ve got.”
“He tries to do the right thing,” Hughes said. “That’s what got him beat the other time (in 2006).”
Jeffery Cox, who has been on the board about 12 years, said Sibley always has the best interests of the school system and its students at heart.
Cox, who represents the Walker area, said Sibley used his connections in the timber industry to help the School Board acquire land to build new schools many years ago.
“He’s a good guy,” Cox said.
A full board meeting is set for Thursday. It is unsure if Sibley will attend.
Mack has said he has not spoken to Sibley about whether he would retain his seat on the School Board or step down.