Accident claims Eunice man near Mamou Tuesday

By: CARISSA HEBERT

Managing Editor

MAMOU - The 38th fatality in the Troop I area was reported Tuesday afternoon, July 22, after an 18-wheeler collided with a white Ford Van, which was being towed down state Highway 13.

James Arnaud, 39, of Eunice, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, which occurred north of the Town of Mamou, near Lavergne’s Wrecking Yard.

The accident occurred when the van became detached from a pick-up truck, which was being driven by Wilbert Fontenot, 48, of Eunice, according to Troop I’s Public Information Officer Trooper David Anderson. He said the two vehicles were southbound and connected by a rope when the van separated from the truck and traveled into the opposing southbound lane of state Highway 13.

Anderson said, “The van struck the 18-wheeler head-on in the southbound travel lane. The occupant of the van was ejected and died at the scene. The 18-wheeler overturned onto state Highway 13 and became engulfed in flames.”

The Mamou and Vidrine Fire Departments responded to the scene along with deputies from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office, Troop I and Acadian Ambulance.

Fontenot had no injuries but was cited with neglecting to have proper safety chains on a towed vehicle and driving without proper insurance records.

Reed, who was driving a truck filled with dirt for TK Stanley Trucking, was taken to Savoy Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries, according to the report.

Garry Reed, district fire chief, said two pumpers and a rescue unit, along with 14 volunteer firefighters from the Mamou Fire Department and one pumper, one service truck and eight volunteer firefighters from the Vidrine Fire Department responded to the scene. He said firefighters gave EMS treatment to the driver of the truck, extinguished the fire and aided in the recovery of the victim.

TK Stanley Trucking removed the dirt from the roadway with their equipment. The fire department washed the road. Mamou firefighters remained on the scene for five hours.

“This crash remains under investigation,” Anderson said. “This is the 34th fatal crash Troop I has investigated thus far in 2008.” He asked motorists to remember, “Alcohol or drugs: impairment is impairment! Drive impaired, get arrested.” He also reminded motorists, seatbelts aren’t as confining as a wheel chair or casket.”

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