A lightning strike on a car driving through Evangeline Parish shortly after 1 p.m. Friday led to a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 49 that took the lives of a young Covington couple, a Louisiana State Police spokesman said.
Austin Jones, 22, and Destinee Jones, 24, died in the crash south of the Bunkie exit in Evangeline Parish, Master Trooper Brooks E. David said late Friday. The 1-year-old child in their car survived.
All three vehicles were traveling north on the interstate: a 2013 Chrysler 200 driven by Curtis Williams, 49, of New Orleans, a 2010 International Wrecker truck driven by Harold Dauzat, 24, of Ville Platte; and a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Austin Jones.
The Chrysler 200 was struck by lightning and became disabled in the roadway, David said in a news release. The wrecker truck was following behind the Chrysler, and was able to stop in time. The Chevrolet Silverado was unable to stop and struck the wrecker from behind. That initial impact caused the wrecker to move forward and strike the Chrysler 200.
Austin Jones was wearing a seat belt, but suffered fatal injuries. He was pronounced dead on scene by the St. Landry Parish Coroner’s Office. Destinee Jones, a passenger, was also wearing a seat belt and suffered critical injuries. She was transported to Opelousas General Hospital, where she later died from her injuries. The child was properly restrained in a child safety seat and suffered minor injuries.
Dauzat, the driver of the wrecker, was not injured, David said.
Williams and his three passengers were all wearing seat belts and suffered minor injuries. They were transported to Bunkie General Hospital, David said.
Impairment is not believed to be a factor, however; toxicology samples were taken from Jones and Williams and submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. Dauzat submitted a proper breath sample and was not impaired.