HOUMA, La. - The drunken driver who killed a sleeping toddler by crashing into her home had been released on bail days earlier for an unprovoked attack inside a Houma bar, police said.
Tony Milligan, 20, 4349 La. 311, Houma, was arrested June 12 after he punched a man for no apparent reason, according to police reports. The two men did not know each other.
Two weekends later Milligan lost control of his truck while fleeing a hit-and-run wreck and crashed into a house on a sliver of bayouside property, killing 2-year-old Taylor Strickland and injuring both her parents, police said.
“This kid doesn't have any regard for humanity. He hit someone in a bar for no reason. He was out on a felony bond when he killed Taylor and forever crushed my heart,” said Mary Strickland, Taylor's grandmother.
Milligan faces a second-degree battery charge for the June 12 attack at Daiquiris & Co., 6203 W. Park Ave. No court date had been set for that charge. “It was an unprovoked attack,” Terrebonne sheriff's deputy Dawn Foret said.
Second-degree battery is the intentional infliction of bodily harm. If convicted, Milligan faces up to five years in prison.
He was free on $1,000 bond when he crashed into the Strickland's tan wood-frame house at 1719 W. Main St. on June 27, police said.
Milligan is suspected of drunken driving, but results of a state-mandated toxicology test are pending, State Police Troop C spokesman Evan Harrell said. Those tests can take up to two months depending on the backlog at the State Police Crime Lab.
A breath-alcohol test was not administered after the crash, Harrell said, because too much time had elapsed by the time doctors finished treating the minor injuries Milligan sustained.
He was immediately charged with vehicular homicide, which carries a penalty of five to 30 years in prison, for Taylor's death and a slew of traffic-related offenses.
On July 1, he was booked again on two counts of vehicular negligent injury, one each for Lance and Brittany Strickland, Taylor's parents. The penalty for that crime is up to six months in jail.
At 20, Milligan was also too young to legally drink without the permission and presence of a parent.
Milligan remains at the Terrebonne Parish jail in lieu of a $300,000 bond, but Taylor's grandmother says the amount should be higher.
“The young man that did this only has a $300,000 bond, but someone dealing drugs would have a much higher bond of $750,000. ... Isn't a life worth more than drugs?” she said.
Taylor's funeral was July 3.
The wreck left her family — Lance, 25, and Brittany, 24, and big brother Trevor, 8, — homeless. The house was pushed 18 inches from its foundation, rendering it unlivable.
“It's completely destroyed. I've been going through the debris. We'll have to relocate,” Lance said.
The grieving family is currently alternating between stays at local hotels and Brittany's mother's home, Lance said.
Brittany is slowly recovering from injuries that include four broken ribs and a fractured vertebrae.
She already suffered from scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, and the crash injuries worsened that condition.
“She wakes up every morning in pain,” Lance said.
Most difficult of all, Lance said, is dealing with the loss of the brown-eyed girl who he called his “little angel.”
“We're just taking it day by day,” he said.
The one thing that has helped the family get through the tragedy is the community's support.
That support can be seen at the damaged house, where there is a growing pile of flowers, balloons and toys. Additionally, an online donation drive raised $10,805 in days, money that helped pay for Taylor's funeral.
“We definitely didn't expect all that from the community, how they pulled together to help us out,” Lance said. “We don't know what we would have done without it,” he said.