Two dead in Mississippi River bridge crash

A driver was arrested for drunken driving after two people were killed, including a teenager, and three others were injured in an early Sunday morning crash on the Mississippi River bridge, Baton Rouge police said.

The crash happened shortly before 3 a.m. on the Interstate 10 Bridge when Dedrick Deon Matthews, 38, driving a 2008 Dodge Charger, rear-ended another car carrying four people, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

Johnny Galmon, 26, 6050 Clayton St., and Kandace Cox, 19, 5220 Annette St., both of Baton Rouge, died after the Honda they were riding in was struck by Matthews’ car, McKneely said.

Both cars were headed west on the bridge when the Dodge rear-ended the Honda, McKneely said.

Two women also were inside the Honda during the crash, and both were taken to hospitals with nonlife-threatening injuries, McKneely said.

The only passenger in Matthews’ car, a 30-year-old man, also was taken to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, McKneely said.

Police booked Matthews, 423 Kay Drive, Baton Rouge, into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of second-offense DWI, two counts of vehicular homicide, three counts of vehicular negligent injuring, reckless operation and careless operation.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Matthews told police he began the night as a sober, designated driver, but later drank alcoholic beverages at a club and a casino before driving again, according to an affidavit by Lt. Cory Reech, head of the Baton Rouge Police Department’s DWI Task Force.

Matthews and his passenger, who was not identified by police, left the casino and headed toward a club in Port Allen. Matthews was behind the wheel because he was the least intoxicated of the two, Reech said.

Matthews spoke with slurred speech while being interviewed by police, according to Reech, who said he recognized “a distinct and unmistakable odor of alcoholic beverages” on Matthews’ breath.

Matthews told investigators he was driving in the right lane of the bridge, speaking with his passenger when the crash happened.

Matthews also told police he did not feel impaired, but when asked “if he thought his lack of sobriety and distraction with the passenger was a contributing factor in the traffic crash,” he replied, “Maybe so. I didn’t even see anybody,” according to the affidavit.

Police conducted a field sobriety test on Matthews at the crash scene, Reech said.

Investigators took Matthews to a police precinct where he failed on four tries to provide a proper breath test sample, the affidavit says.

Matthews fell asleep continually while police tried to interview him and administer the breath tests, the affidavit says.

Police later took Matthews to a hospital to have his blood draw for a toxicology test before booking him into Parish Prison.