A teacher on her way to the first day of school in Tangipahoa Parish was killed in a car wreck on Interstate 55 Thursday morning, officials said.
Rhonda Davis-Strickland, 43, of Osyka, Miss., and a teacher at Kentwood’s O.W. Dillon Elementary, was about three miles north of the Kentwood exit headed south when, for unknown reasons, her car ran off the road to the right and struck a bridge rail on a small interstate overpass, Louisiana State Police Trooper Nick Manale said in a news release.
Strickland’s car then spun across the southbound lanes to the median, overturned several times and came to rest in the right northbound lane of the interstate, Manale said.
Strickland was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office pronounced her dead at the scene, Manale said.
Investigating troopers do not suspect driver impairment to be a factor in the crash, pending the results of a toxicology exam, Manale said.
“This is a tragic loss for our school and our district,” Tangipahoa Parish Superintendent Mark Kolwe said.
O.W. Dillon Principal Lance Harrell notified the system office of the accident, and a counselor was sent to the school, Kolwe said.
“She had been there for a while, so we sent someone primarily in case the staff needed extra assistance in dealing with the loss,” Kolwe said.
“They’re like a family, you know, after they’ve been teaching together so long.”
“It’s an unfortunate thing and kind of put a damper on the first day of school,” he said. “They’ll work through it.”