A 51-year-old Abbeville man faces counts of vehicular homicide and fourth-offense driving while intoxicated in a head-on crash that killed his passenger and critically injured the other driver, State Police said Monday.
The crash occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday on La. 82, south of Abbeville, when Gregory Menard attempted to pass several vehicles in a curve marked as a no-passing zone, State Police said in a news release.
Menard’s 1997 Buick smashed head-on into a 2012 Ford Focus driven by Emily Landry, 23, of Lafayette, State Police said.
Menard suffered moderate injuries in the crash. A passenger in his car, Kenneth Menard, 55, of Abbeville, relation unknown, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene, the news release says.
Landry, who had been wearing her seat belt, was taken to a local hospital, where she remains in critical condition, said Trooper Stephen Hammons, spokesman for State Police.
Upon his release from the hospital, Gregory Menard will be booked into the Vermilion Parish Jail on counts of vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injury, fourth-offense DWI and passing in a no-passing zone.
Toxicology samples were obtained from both drivers and the results are pending at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
Menard’s record of DWI offenses dates to 1999, according to court records in Vermilion Parish.
He pleaded guilty to a Sept. 4, 1999, first-offense DWI in March 2000. He was convicted of a second offense in September 2004 in Abbeville City Court.
He pleaded guilty to a third offense in June 2009 and received a five-year sentence, of which all but one year was suspended. He was also required to pay a $2,000 fine, install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle and undergo substance-abuse counseling, court records show.
Menard faced another DWI offense in June 2004, but the charge was thrown out in April 2006 after Menard’s attorney filed a motion to quash.
District Attorney Mike Harson said a warrant was issued for Menard’s arrest in that case after he failed to appear for a court hearing. Harson said two years went by before Menard was located. When it came time to prosecute the case, Menard’s attorney argued that too much time had elapsed. Harson said the judge ruled that not enough effort was put into locating Menard, noting that Menard had never left the immediate area.
Harson said he did not know what else could have been done in that case. Had Menard gone to jail for the maximum five-year sentence in 2009, he likely would have been out of jail by this time, due to good-time rules that cut prison time from a prisoner’s sentence, the prosecutor said.
“There are some people who, unfortunately, when they get to that level, they have a serious problem and they’re not going to respond” to laws or treatment, Harson said. “Some of these people are just going to flaunt it.”
There were no restrictions on Menard’s license at the time of Saturday’s crash, Hammons said.
If convicted of vehicular homicide, Menard could face a possible maximum 30-year prison sentence.