DENHAM SPRINGS, La.-- A Livingston Parish man is facing charges related to the death of a six-year-old neighbor, after investigators say the man was driving while using his cell phone and ran over the boy.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office says 32-year-old Brad Welch was on his cell phone while pulling into the driveway of his Denham Springs home, when he ran over six-year-old Tyler Myers.
The incident happened on Sep. 24, and after a subsequent investigation, Welch is now charged with negligent homicide.
"The issue is-- did his actions, did the driver's actions involve criminal negligence?" said Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Donald "Chick" Foret. "Was he so negligent, was he so outside the norm of what a reasonable person should have been doing, that it was raised to the level of a crime and that is the crime of negligent homicide."
Dewayne Curney knows the pain of losing a young child hit by a car.
"[He was] real smart, real playful," he said of his son, Dewayne Curney, Jr. "He never met no strangers."
His two-year-old son was playing in his front yard, when a drunk driver hit him in 2004. Now, Curney speaks out against the dangers of driving while drunk or distracted.
"You have to pay attention. There's a lot of responsibility out there, when you're driving," Curney said. "Young people and older people, these cell phones, they take them for granted. You take your eye off the road one minute and that's all it takes."
In Louisiana, it is against the law to text on a cell phone while driving. However, it is legal to drive and talk on a handheld cell phone.
"What we don't have is an all-encompassing cell phone law just yet," said Trooper Nick Manale, Public Information Officer for Louisiana State Police Troop L. "That is coming about. It comes up every year in the Legislative session and sooner, rather than later, we will have that requiring drivers to use a hands-free device."
The effort may be easier said than done: an effort to require hands-free devices for cell phone use in cars failed to pass in the state Legislature during the past four years. This year, the state House did pass a bill to require hand-free devices, but it did not to make it out of the Senate.