The man accused of killing seven people in a May 30 drunken driving crash in East Feliciana Parish told a state trooper that he drank six or seven beers before getting behind the wheel that evening, according to the traffic crash report released Friday by State Police.
Brett G. Gerald, 30, told the trooper he drank the Miller Lite beers at the Copper Mill Golf Club in Zachary.
Gerald said he started drinking at 3 p.m. and stopped when he got into his truck at 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
When asked if he felt the effects of the alcohol after the crash, Gerald said yes, paused and then said, “trying to decide how to answer this, by the time all (is) said and done I felt a little slurred,” the report says.
The trooper who interviewed Gerald early on May 31 at Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, where he was being treated for two broken ankles, said Gerald’s speech was slurred and his eyes were red and glassy.
Later that morning, the trooper told Gerald that he was being arrested on five counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular negligent injuring.
The trooper explained to Gerald that five people had died and two more had suffered life-threatening injuries when he drove his pickup into the wrong lane of La. 67 south of Clinton and crashed it head-on into a car occupied by seven Baton Rouge residents returning from Bible study in Clinton.
The reports says Gerald looked surprised and said, “Are you serious?” He then shook his head, sighed and said, “I, I don’t know what to ...” The trooper said Gerald mumbled something he could not understand.
During the next couple of weeks, Gerald was booked on an additional two counts of vehicular homicide when the victims who suffered life-threatening injuries died.
Gerald pleaded not guilty to seven counts of vehicular homicide on Tuesday. A trial was set for the week of Dec. 10 and Gerald’s bail was set at $1 million.
The five people who died instantly in the crash were Brenda Gaines, 64; Denise Gaines, 33; Diamond Johnson, 12; Jyran Johnson, 6; and Angela Mosely, 36. Willie Gaines Jr., 15, and Rogerick Johnson Jr., 13, died later.
A Slaughter police officer was the first person to respond to the scene of the crash and said he found the victims’ Mercury Grand Marquis in the southbound lane of the highway and that the car had “major damage” to its front end, the traffic crash report says.
The officer found three women in the front seat of the car and a woman and three men in the back seat, the report says. All were unresponsive.
The officer then walked over to Gerald’s Dodge Ram pickup, which was in a northbound ditch about 80 yards from the Mercury, the report says. Gerald was holding his ankle and lying on the ground next to his truck, which also had severe damage to its front end.
Two witnesses to the crash who also were traveling on La. 67 said they saw Gerald driving in the wrong lane of traffic and had to pull over to get out of his way, the report says.
Lionel Williams, 44, of Clinton, said he pulled onto the shoulder of the highway when he saw Gerald coming straight at him. A short time later, Williams said he saw another vehicle move out of Gerald’s way.
Williams said he then saw Gerald slam into the Mercury.
Marian “Lynn” McCain, of St. Gabriel, said she and her husband were driving in front of the Gaines’ vehicle and almost crashed head-on into Gerald.
McCain, 56, said she swerved to the right to avoid being hit and then saw Gerald smash into the Gaines family’s car.
McCain said the truck hit the car behind her so hard she thought her SUV had been hit, too.
State Police said an analysis of a sample of Gerald’s blood showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent. In Louisiana, a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered presumptive evidence of drunken driving.
Before being booked in the fatal wreck, Gerald was arrested at least three times for drunken driving in Assumption, East Feliciana and Livingston parishes.