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2nd person arrested after Plaquemines deputy injured, struck by ATV

Investigators say 18-year-old Kody Blanchard was one of two ATV drivers who were fleeing from deputies shortly before the crash early Tuesday

BELLE CHASSE, La. — A second man is in custody after authorities say the driver of a speeding ATV intentionally struck a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office deputy on Tuesday, critically injuring the law enforcement officer.

The sheriff's office announced Wednesday that 18-year-old Kody Blanchard was arrested on Tuesday evening. Investigators say Blanchard was one of two ATV drivers who were fleeing from deputies shortly before the crash early Tuesday morning.

Blanchard faces the following charges: Reckless Operation of an Off-Road Vehicle, Flight from an Officer, Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway of Commerce, No Safety Helmet, Obedience to and Required Traffic Control Devices, General Speed Law, Vehicle License Required and Proper Equipment/Display of Plate Required.

According to Louisiana State Police, the crash happened around 3 a.m. on LA 407 near the Woodland Highway Bridge in Belle Chasse, La. The sheriff's office said the two ATVs were driving slowly on the highway without lights and deputies tried to stop them, prompting the chase. Investigators say the two ATVs split and went in different directions - one on LA 406 and the other on LA 407.

During the chase, state police say a deputies positioned himself ahead of one of the oncoming ATV on the right shoulder of a well-lit area of LA 407 near the Woodland Bridge. Troopers say the deputy was standing in the middle of the roadway trying to flag down the ATV when the driver, identified as 18-year-old Reginald Frederick Hamilton, abruptly steered the ATV into him.

"The bike would have missed him," Sheriff Jerry Turlich said. "At the last second it veered right at the officer."

Hamilton lost control of the ATV and was ejected. The deputy and Hamilton both suffered serious injuries and were taken to a hospital.

The deputy, whose name has not been released, is said to be critical, but stable. His injuries shook Turlich and his department.

"It's heart wrenching," he said. "I talked to his wife... To see my officer in that bed, critical but stable, is troublesome."

Troopers say Hamilton will face the following counts, among others: Attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, flight from an officer, reckless operation of a vehicle.

"I'm tired of it," Turlich said. "My staff is tired of it. I'm sure New Orleans is tired of it. Jefferson is tired of it."

The PPSO declined to name the injured deputy but did say he has been with the department for about 10 years.

The Louisiana State Police has taken over as the lead agency investigating the case.

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