LACOMBE, LA — Yesterday evening shortly before 9:00 p.m., Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop L began investigating a fatal crash on U.S. 190 approximately 3.5 miles east of LA 434 in St. Tammany Parish. The single vehicle crash seriously injured the driver, Brian Williams, 19, and resulted in fatal injuries for the front passenger, Thomas Populas, 15, both of Lacombe, LA. Neither the teen driver nor passenger was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Troopers’ investigation revealed that the crash occurred as Williams was traveling west on U.S. 190 in a 2008 Ford Mustang when he attempted to pass a slower moving vehicle ahead of him in the westbound lane. Upon attempting to pass the vehicle, Williams began to travel west upon the eastbound shoulder of the roadway when he lost control of the Mustang causing it to rotate clockwise and travel back across the eastbound and westbound lanes. As the Mustang rotated across both lanes of travel, it left the paved roadway and impacted several large trees along the north side of the roadway before coming to rest.
Williams was ejected from the vehicle during the course of the crash and was transported to the LSU University Medical Center in New Orleans with serious injuries.
Populas, the 15 year old unrestrained passenger in the Mustang, was thrown into the rear window area during the impact and was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office.
Alcohol and/or drug impairment is unknown at this time pending a toxicology analysis. Charges are currently pending against Williams.
While Troopers continue their investigation into the events of the crash, the unfortunate lack of seatbelt use by either teen occupant is a testament to the importance of being properly restrained at all times. Louisiana law requires every vehicle occupant, front seat and back seat, to be properly restrained day or night. Troopers statewide participate in proactive injury prevention programs targeting young drivers with invaluable safety information; however, the task of keeping teens safe begins at home with parents providing a positive example and always wearing a seatbelt. Taking the time to buckle up every trip and every time is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.