At approximately 3:45pm on Saturday, May 18, 2013, units and personnel from St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11 and St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 7 along with St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police as well as Acadian Ambulance responded to Interstate 59 northbound near mile marker 9 for a motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival, personnel found a heavily damaged Saturn blocking the roadway. The vehicle struck the back of a trailer with a tractor on it being towed by a pickup truck. The trailer and tractor received minor damage. St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11 Deputy Chief Jack Dockery says that "the female driver, in her late teens, early twenties was out of the vehicle once personnel arrived on scene. She ony received very minor injuries." He went on to say that "the vehicle was severely damaged with the exception of the area right around the driver seat. After the crash, she was able to open the driver door and get out of the vehicle on her own." The driver was wearing her seat belt according to Deputy Chief Jack Dockery, which certainly attributed to her being able to walk away from the vehicle after the crash. St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11's ambulance did transport the driver to a nearby hospital for further evaluation but again, according to personnel on scene, her injuries appeared to be superficial and minor. Traffic on Interstate 59 was backed up as a result of the crash but as scene in the photographs, traffic was able to flow on the shoulder while the vehicle was removed and the lanes of traffic could be cleaned up. As emergency responders we have seen on countless major crashes where seat belts have saved lives. This is a prime example. Unfortunately not ever crash is a survivable crash but the use of seat belts increases the chance tremendously! This applies for all occupants in the vehicle including children that are required to be secured in child safety restraints. Statistics continue to show that seat belts do save lives. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, "The proportion of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes has decreased from 2002 to 2011. Among passenger vehicle occupants killed, when restraint use was known, the percentage of unrestrained deaths decreased by 7 percentage points from 59 percent in 2002 to 52 percent in 2011" - The document containing these stats and more may be found at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811729.pdf The Louisiana State Police is handling the investigation.
Reports from local TV news stations: