Family mourns loss of teen killed by suspected drunk driver

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 10:24 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

LAFOURCHE, La. -- A Lafourche Parish family will being going to a teenager's funeral, exactly one week after his high school graduation.

And the family has two messages to pass on, about impaired driving and being an organ donor.

It was supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives. Tyler Dufrene, 17, had just graduated Wednesday night from Central Lafourche. Hours later a phone call changed everything.

"We're just going to take it one day at a time," said Tyler's sister Rebecca Yates about how the family is dealing with the loss of her little brother.

It happened on a section of Hwy. 1 where Louisiana State Police say a car traveling north that had just crossed the Valentine Bridge, crossed over the center lane and crashed into Tyler's car head on.

Tyler's sister said she talked to Michael Costello, 20, on the phone Sunday. Louisiana State Police say he was the driver of the other car. She said he told her he had had some beers and was checking Facebook.

"He said that he prayed for my brother and that he was actually on his phone when the accident happened. He said he was sorry, and if he could he would trade places with my brother," Yates said through tears.

The head-on collision happened in front of a Lockport man's home.

"Almost standing right where I am now, I could see the Jeep and I could see the young man pinned inside, which for me was really something difficult to look at," said Elrick Nelson, who heard the crash around 10:45 p.m.

He works in drug court to get drivers under the influence to stop drinking or drugging and driving.

"We don't really get people until they are on their third or fourth DWI, which is, they're pretty much at the point where they could have killed someone by that time. That's basically what I'm in the business of trying to prevent. And part of me is actually angry because the thing that I always tell clients in our program is, if you choose to drink, that's your business. But if you choose to get behind the wheel, it become the business of every person you pass by on that highway," said Nelson.

So young, yet Tyler had enough vision to sign an organ donation card. Now countless people will have a second chance on life. His sisters want to meet the recipients and feel his beating heart again.

"My brother's a hero. He saved seven people's lives," said another older sister Hilary Yates.

She wants others to change their behavior so another life is not lost.

"I want them to really think about the consequences, and it's not even just teens, it's everybody who gets behind that wheel and drink and drive. You never know. Life is precious. It's very precious," said Hilary.

"We want everyone to just not drink and drive not have any distraction, Facebook, texting while you're driving. We just hoping everyone opens their eyes because an innocent life was taken," said Rebecca.

An innocent life that was loved at Central Lafourche High School. "He just was always precious, just never, never, never disrespectful or anything like that," said the assistant principal Valencia Pierre.

Costello was charged with DWI and negligent injury before Tyler died in the hospital Saturday. Those charges could change to negligent homicide pending the investigation.

Louisiana State Police say Costello did not mention being on the phone right after the crash in the initial interview.

They should have toxicology reports later this week for the district attorney's office.

 

Print
Email
|