New Orleans — It was meant to be a weekend of joy.
Taylor McGonigle, days away from her 22nd birthday, and several friends made a trip to the French Quarter from the Baton Rouge area to celebrate.
But on the walk back to their car early Sunday, the merriment turned to horror as a man, allegedly drunk at more than twice the legal limit, killed McGonigle in a freak accident.
Police said motorist Tevest Vance slammed into a balcony post about 5:15 a.m., knocking it onto McGonigle.
The Baker resident died on the scene of head trauma, said Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, the Orleans Parish coroner.
Vance, 37, was booked with vehicular homicide.
Vance performed “poorly” on a field sobriety test, according to documents filed at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, and he had a “strong odor” of alcohol on his breath and registered a blood-alcohol level of .214 percent. The legal limit in Louisiana for drivers is .08 percent.
Vance, who drove a 1993 Nissan Maxima, tried to flee, but his car stalled, according to Officer Hilal Williams, a New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman.
An onlooker stopped him, Williams said, and police booked Vance with vehicular homicide. He also was booked on a probation violation.
According to court records, Vance, who has six felony and four misdemeanor convictions, was on probation until July 2019 after getting a five-year suspended sentence following a 2011 conviction for distribution of cocaine.
In addition to smelling of alcohol after Sunday’s accident, Vance had bloodshot eyes and was unsteady on his feet, police wrote in their arrest report.
He remained jailed Monday morning with bail set at $100,000 on the vehicular homicide charge, according to court records.
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.