A 39-year-old man who was just a few hundred yards from reaching his home near Independence died Friday night when a pickup truck veered across the center line of La. 40 and slammed into his car head-on, authorities said.
Harold Conatser was heading west on La. 40 near La. 43, when Austin Culpepper, also of Independence, swerved into Conaster’s path Friday night for reasons that aren’t clear, said Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer, a State Police spokesman.
Culpepper was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. Conatser was unrestrained and died at the scene, Sandifer said in a news release.
Conatser was just a few hundred yards away from his Livingston Parish home on Horseshoe Road when the accident happened about 8:30 p.m, said Charles Whiddon, chairman of the board of Fire District 11 in Livingston Parish, who is also Conatser’s uncle.
Whiddon lives just a few homes away from Conatser and was at home when he heard what sounded like a loud explosion. A fire station sits in his backyard, so he responded to the scene in a rescue truck to find a head-on collision.
“Another minute, and he would have been out of the road and home,” Whiddon said.
He added that that stretch of road curves slightly and has seen a number of accidents, although head-on collisions are rare.
“He was a very loving, hands-on daddy to his kids,” Whiddon said, adding that Conatser was married with two small children. “It’s a very sad situation.”
It is not known if either driver was impaired. However, investigators took toxicology samples from both. State Police have not filed charges as of Saturday afternoon, and the crash remains under investigation.