LSP: Driver distracted by device in fatal crash

State Police arrested a Denham Springs driver Tuesday who was believed to have been distracted by a handheld electronic device when he drove through a stop sign and killed an 83-year-old driver in Ascension Parish, troopers reported.

Audrey S. Wells, of Gonzales, was pulling her car out into the intersection of La. 931 and Joe Sevario and Roddy roads when her car was struck shortly before 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, troopers said.

Travis R. Parent Jr., 23, of Denham Springs, was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail on Tuesday on counts of negligent homicide, reckless operation and felony disregarding of a stop sign, troopers said in a news release Tuesday.

Trooper Jared Sandifer, State Police spokesman for Troop A, said Parent was looking at what may have been something like the GPS function on a cellphone.

He said Parent admitted to troopers that he was looking at the device while driving. Sandifer said that evidence at the scene also pointed to that.

“He was actually engaged in this electronic device,” Sandifer said, adding Parent was not speaking on the cellphone.

Wells was stopped at the intersection, which has a four-way stop sign, on Joe Sevario and was pulling out headed southbound a 1993 Lincoln Town Car, troopers said. Joe Sevario turns into Roddy Road south of La. 931.

Parent was westbound on La. 931 in a 1995 Chevrolet pickup and did not stop at the stop sign, hitting Wells, troopers said.

Wells was wearing a seatbelt but sustained fatal injuries in the crash, trooper said.

Driver impairment is unknown at this time, troopers said.

Troopers said they have submitted a toxicology sample from Parent to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

The crash remains under investigation and further charges may be pending, troopers said.