Driver, passengers flee after car hit by train

A 30-year-old man drove a car into the path of an oncoming train Monday morning on North Ardenwood Drive, leading to a minor crash from which the man initially fled before returning to speak with police, the authorities said.

Neither the man nor his two passengers, who also fled, were injured in the crash, which occurred about 10 a.m. near Choctaw Drive, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

The driver of the white Honda Accord “got a little bit scared” and fled because he did not have car insurance, Coppola said. He said they are not releasing the driver’s name because the matter involved only a traffic citation.

The CN train wasn’t moving fast when it ran into the Honda, leaving the car with minor to moderate damage on its front bumper, Coppola said. The crash did not cause the train to derail from the tracks.

A CN spokesman said the train, which was carrying nonhazardous petrochemicals, was not damaged. The train’s two passengers, an engineer and a conductor, were not injured, the spokesman, Jim Feeny, said.

The railroad crossing’s red lights, which are attached to large metal poles on both sides of the crossing, were functioning at the time of the crash, Coppola said.

Police cited the driver for failure to yield to a train, hit-and-run driving, no proof of insurance and driving under suspension, Coppola said.

Gas station fire leads to evacuation

A submersible transformer blew Monday afternoon in the parking lot of a Florida Boulevard gas station, causing a brief fire that led to the evacuation of a Chinese restaurant nearby and the brief closure of the road in both directions, said a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman.

The flames rose near a Texaco gas station in the 6900 block of Florida Boulevard from what looked like a drain in the ground, where the Entergy transformer was housed below the surface, said Curt Monte, the department spokesman.

Officials briefly evacuated the Shanghai Place restaurant, a Chinese buffet, before determining the scene was safe. Air monitor readings did not show signs of anything hazardous in the air after the fire, Monte said.

The call came in about 3:15 p.m. and the flames were out within minutes, Monte said.

The authorities closed Florida Boulevard in both directions near the gas station before reopening the road once the “all clear” was given, Monte said.

Investigators: House fire intentionally set

Baton Rouge fire investigators determined a Monday morning house blaze just east of Plank Road and north of Choctaw Drive was set intentionally.

Firefighters arrived at the 2700 block of Iroquois Street about 5:20 a.m. to find several small fires burning inside a home, said Curt Monte, a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman.

The fire was under control within 10 minutes. A bedroom sustained the brunt of the damage, Monte said.

At least one person lives at the home, but the person wasn’t home during the fire. Investigators on Monday were looking for anyone who lived at the home, Monte said.

Fire investigators are still investigating a Sunday morning suspected arson at a home a few blocks northeast of Iroquois Street on Mission Drive. Several small fires also were set intentionally to spark that blaze, Monte said.

Investigators don’t have any reason to believe the two arsons are related, although they haven’t ruled out the possibility, Monte said.

Fire investigators ask anyone with information about these blazes to call them at (225) 354-1419.

BR woman booked on suspicion of DWI

Authorities arrested at least one woman suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked her into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 p.m. Monday, booking records show.

Shelley Leffel, 33, 14396 Acacia St., Baton Rouge, was booked on first-offense DWI, careless operation and driver’s license suspended or revoked.

Compiled from staff reports. To talk to a crime reporter at The Advocate, call (225) 388-0369.