Posted on July 29, 2016
Just five days before what would have been a woman’s 23rd birthday and four days prior to the one-year anniversary of her death, the driver responsible for taking her life took a plea agreement that would keep him out of prison for life. Instead, he will spend a minimum of 25 years behind bars in connection with the Oct. 19, 2014 drunk driving accident that robbed the victim of her future. Toxicology tests confirmed that the man’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, which occurred in New Orleans’ French Quarter, was .214.
The victim was celebrating her 22nd birthday that night, and when the festivities ended at around 5:20 a.m., she and her group of friends walked along Burgundy Street, between Conti and St. Louis streets. Little did they know that the drunk driver was heading their way. His vehicle veered onto the sidewalk and struck a balcony pole. That pole came crashing down onto the head of the victim and killed her instantly.
The driver made an effort to flee the scene, but fortunately, his car would not start. A detective with the New Orleans Police Department Traffic Fatalities unit reported that the man smelled of alcohol and displayed signs of intoxication. Even though her family is satisfied with the outcome of the criminal proceedings, that does not mean they have not — or will not — exercise their right to file a wrongful death claim against the man.
The fact that he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide could be decisive in helping the family establish that their loved one was killed due to his negligence. This evidence, combined with other evidence from the investigation into this tragic drunk driving accident, could satisfy a civil court judge that the driver was negligent. In that event, the court would then consider an award of monetary damages.
Source: nola.com, “Drunk driver gets 25 years for killing woman when French Quarter balcony pole fell“, Ken Daley, Oct. 15, 2015