Teen’s father: ‘My whole family was taken from me’
A teenage boy who is the seventh victim of a May 30 head-on crash in East Feliciana Parish died Sunday, State Police said.
Rogerick Johnson Jr., 13, died about 3 p.m. at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Trooper Evan Harrell of the State Police said in a news release.
Johnson is one of seven people to die after a Greensburg man accused of drunken driving crashed his pickup into a Mercury Grand Marquis at 9:12 p.m. May 30 near La. 67 and La. 412 outside of Slaughter, State Police have said.
Brenda Gaines, 64; Denise Gaines, 33; Angela Mosely, 35; Diamond Johnson, 12; and Jyran Johnson, 6, were killed instantly, State Police have said. Willie Gaines Jr., 15, died June 2 from injuries he suffered in the crash.
Family members visited Rogerick Johnson Jr. on Saturday and were with him Sunday when he died, the Rev. Ray C. Gilbert Sr., a friend of the victim’s family, said in a news release.
“This is tougher than anything I have ever had to face in life and I am just at a loss for words or what to think now, because my whole family was taken from me by this avoidable tragedy,” Rogerick Johnson Sr., the father of Rogerick Johnson Jr., said in the release.
The family is still making arrangements for a memorial service for Rogerick Johnson Jr., Gilbert said.
The pickup driver, Brett Gerald, 30, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was booked in Clinton on five counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular negligent injuring, second-offense driving while intoxicated, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and driving left of center, State Police have said.
Gerald was released on bond May 31 after his family posted a property bond of more than $256,000.
State Police arrested Gerald on June 4 and booked him back into Parish Prison in Clinton on a sixth count of vehicular homicide in the death of Willie Gaines Jr.
Gerald will be charged with seven counts of vehicular homicide at a hearing Tuesday, East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla has said.
Also on Tuesday, there will be a bail hearing for Gerald, D’Aquilla has said.
D’Aquilla has said he will request that bail be denied for Gerald.
Gerald’s blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent on May 30, State Police have said. In Louisiana, a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 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.
Lynn McCain, of St. Gabriel, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that she and her husband were driving in front of the Gaines’ vehicle.
McCain, 56, said she and her husband were driving home after visiting with her ill mother-in-law in Clinton.
Gerald was driving in the wrong lane and almost crashed head-on into McCain’s SUV, she said.
McCain said she swerved to the right to avoid being hit by Gerald then Gerald smashed into the Gaines family’s car.
McCain, who said she and her husband heard what sounded like an explosion just after the miss, said the Gaines family had no time to avoid the crash.
McCain said her first instinct was to get out of her car and run over to the Gaines car to help. She ran over, but it was too late.
“The car was crushed and mangled,” McCain said. “I saw children inside. There were no cries, no moans and no one asking for help. There was nothing. No sound, just dead silence.”
McCain said she called 911.
“I could only see five people inside. But it turned out that there were seven people inside,” McCain said.
Advocate staff writer
Kimberly Vetter contributed
to this report.