New charges filed against driver of bus in fatal I-10 crash

David Hammer tracks down how an illegal immigrant was allowed to drive a bus involved in a fatal wreck Sunday.

LAPLACE, La. -- New criminal charges were filed against the driver of a bus at the center of a fatal crash on I-10 last weekend after another victim died from their injuries.

According to Louisiana State Police, 37-year-old Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez now faces 3 counts of Negligent Homicide, 41 counts of Negligent Injuring, Reckless Operation and No Driver's License.

Rodriguez, an undocumented immigrant who had been cited multiple times for driving without a license, remains jailed. Federal authorities already have issued an immigration detainer, a strong indication that he will face deportation proceedings in addition to the criminal charges.

The crash occurred at the scene of another accident that firefighers were on the scene for.

According to state police, a 2005 Nissan Titan driven by Javontris Lawson was traveling too fast for the slick road. Lawson lost control of the Titan and hit the left guardrail, crossed the highway and struck the right guardrail. The truck stopped across the right lane and shoulder.

Parish firefighters responded to the wreck and were protecting the crash. LSP said the right lane was blocked by a fire truck and a Trooper's unit was just ahead of the fire truck with its emergency lights on. Three firefighters were standing near the right guardrail between the LSP unit and the Titan, assisting with injuries and the initial crash investigating.

That's when troopers said the bus came in the left lane at a high rate of speed.

State Trooper Melissa Matey said that for reasons under investigation, the bus struck the left side of the fire truck that was angled in the right lane.

"The bus then struck the rear of a 2012 Toyota Camry, and the Camry was pushed into the rear of a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and flatbed trailer. After striking the rear of the Camry, the bus veered into the right lane between the Trooper unit and the Titan."

One of the victims killed by the crash, St. John District Fire Chief  Spencer Chauvin, was laid to rest Thursday. Vontravous Kelly, 33, and Jermain Starr, 21, both from Moss Point, Mississippi, were also killed in the crash.

Two firefighters injured in the crash remain hospitalized.

St. John Firefighter Nick Saale was seriously injured and was taken to University Medical Center with a broken leg, fractured ribs and cuts and bruises. Firefighter William Beal was also transported to a local hospital with moderate injuries.

(© 2016 WWL)


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