GONZALES — A high-speed police chase that started with a theft at the Tanger Factory Outlet Center in Gonzales on Tuesday ended with a wreck in Iberville Parish that killed the two people fleeing authorities, a State Police spokesman said.
State Police troopers responded to the crash scene after Gonzales police notified troopers that one of that city’s officers had been involved in a pursuit on La. 30 after the theft from a store at Tanger, Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer said.
The crash happened around 11:15 a.m. on La. 30 east of La. 74 in St. Gabriel, Sandifer said.
Kevdrinka T. Williams, 25, of Baton Rouge, was trying to evade Gonzales police while driving a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser west on La. 30, Sandifer said. At the same time, Warren Porta III, 34, of Gonzales, was driving a 2012 Toyota Tundra east on the highway.
Williams tried to pass several vehicles on the westbound shoulder of La. 30, but lost control of her vehicle, which crossed into the eastbound lane and struck Porta’s Tundra head-on, Sandifer said.
Williams and her passenger, Tremaine R. Wickem, 20, of New Orleans, died in the crash, Sandifer said. They were not wearing seat belts.
Porta and his front seat passenger, Bradley Nolan, 48, of Geismar, sustained moderate injuries, Sandifer said. He said both were wearing seat belts.
Troopers are unsure if Williams was impaired but have submitted a toxicology sample to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis, Sandifer said.
Gonzales Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steven Nethken said the incident began following a theft at the outlet mall that led to the chase.
“According to the city attorney, we’re going to have no comment because it’s still under investigation,” Nethken said.
Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson spoke from the scene shortly after noon, saying he was “in the middle of (the investigation) right now” and offered no further comment. Later attempts to reach him Tuesday to comment on the police department’s pursuit policies were unsuccessful.
Tuesday’s high-speed chase was the second that ended in a fatality in the past three months involving Gonzales police.
In October, a chase ensued following a traffic stop on Airline Highway.
The driver of that vehicle, 24-year-old Joshua Davis, of Westwego, was killed after his vehicle struck a culvert, flipped twice and hit a large signpost in front of Ascension Baptist Church.
A passenger, 40-year-old Lerone Ursin, of Convent, also was killed in that crash.