PORT ALLEN – A crash late Tuesday in which the driver was believed to be both impaired and driving at a high rate of speed left one passenger dead and the driver injured, according to the State Police.
Tasha Nelson, 38, of Port Allen was riding in the rear seat of the vehicle when the crash occurred just before 11 a.m. on LA 415 south of US 190 in West Baton Parish, according to a State Police news release. Nelson, who was not restrained, was transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police said the crash occurred as Dedrick Varise, 32, of Port Allen was traveling northbound on LA 415 in a 2002 Nissan Altima at a high rate of speed. As Varise crossed the Lafton overpass, he failed to maintain control of his vehicle, which struck several mailboxes as it ran off the right side of the road and hit an embankment. The vehicle began to overturn and Nelson was ejected from the vehicle. Varise and his front-seat passenger, Dennis Vallery, 35, of Port Allen, fled the scene on foot.
Deputies from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office located Varise and Vallery and returned them to the scene. Varise was taken to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital for minor injuries. A toxicology sample was taken from Varise and will be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis.
Upon release from the hospital, Varise will be booked into the West Baton Rouge Parish Jail on counts of DWI first offense, vehicular homicide, reckless operation, driving with a suspended license, and no seat belt