An internal investigation has been launched into a rookie Pointe Coupee deputy’s failure to administer a blood-alcohol test to a driver who crashed into the back of another vehicle along U.S. 190 Mardi Gras night, Sheriff Bud Torres said Friday.
Torres said Friday it appears as though there might have been a miscommunication between his deputy, who's only been on the force a year, and a State Police trooper who was called in to assist in the investigation.
But Torres said it was ultimately his deputy's responsibility to collect all the evidence related to the accident.
"Yes, we made a mistake. We dropped the ball," Torres said. "But we're going to try and salvage what we have and correct the problem."
The crash at the center of the investigation occurred around 7 p.m. Tuesday when a couple traveling eastbound along U.S. 190 was trying to make a left turn onto La. 978 in Torbert. A man driving a truck crashed into the back of the couple's vehicle as they were waiting to make the turn.
All the individuals in the crash were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital, but both vehicles involved were a total loss.
Torres said the rookie deputy who initially responded to the crash took statements from the victims while they were at the hospital but left soon after to answer another call in the area after a State Trooper showed up to the hospital.
From what he’s learned so far, the sheriff said, it appears the deputy might have assumed the State Police trooper would see to it that a blood-alcohol test was administered. But the trooper left the hospital and the suspect's blood-alcohol level was never tested.
Based on preliminary statements from the victims and the suspect, investigators have reason to suspect the man driving the truck might have been intoxicated at the time.
"We take full responsibility for the screw up," Torres said. "It was our obligation to do it."
Depending on the findings of the internal investigation, Torres said, disciplinary action could be taken against one or more employees.
Torres said Friday his office is trying to get a subpoena from the court so that they can get samples of the man's blood from the hospital where he was treated for his minor injuries.
"I'm also conducting a criminal investigation to pursue a possible DWI charge against the driver," he said. "We're going to pursue every legal option available to us towards that."