A drunken driver plowed into a group of people helping at the scene of a wreck on Interstate 10 early Sunday, seriously injuring six people, including a police officer and two Acadian Ambulance medics.
Police arrested William D. Smith, 26, who’s accused of driving his Chevrolet pickup into a Mazda 6 soon after it crashed into a guardrail and striking people standing nearby, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman. The incident happened in the 1000 block of I-10 East near the split with Interstate 12 about 1:20 a.m. Sunday.
Smith “totally disregarded the staging area we had set up while we were working that scene,” McKneely said.
Smith drove around a police cruiser parked behind the wrecked car, hitting the driver of that car, a Good Samaritan who stopped to help, an Acadian Ambulance EMT and a Baton Rouge police officer, McKneely said. Smith then drove away from the scene, striking a second Good Samaritan and an Acadian paramedic, McKneely said.
The initial wreck was on the left shoulder of I-10 East, said Justin Cox, Acadian operations manager. The paramedic was pulled under Smith’s pickup as he fled, he said.
“He was drug out into the median area. … He was rolling underneath the truck,” Cox said.
Smith, who police pulled over and arrested a few blocks later on I-12, showed “extreme signs” of impairment and intoxication, a police report says. The report notes that Smith’s driver’s license is suspended.
Smith refused to consent to sobriety and blood tests, but because he had caused serious injuries, the officer ordered a blood sample to be drawn anyway, according to the report. The sample was submitted to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis.
The victims’ injuries include broken and fractured bones, deep tissue lacerations, lacerated arteries, internal bleeding and head injuries, the report says.
All seven people involved in the incident were taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center for treatment and all are expected to survive, McKneely said.
The EMT was discharged from the hospital, and the paramedic remained in ICU in critical condition as of Sunday evening, Cox said.
“By the nature of our work, first responders are sometimes placed in dangerous situations,” Acadian CEO Richard Zuschlag said in a prepared statement. “Incidents like this are tragic, and we are praying for all of the victims.”
“It’s horrible,” Cox said, adding that it’s “very uncommon” for medics to be injured while working a crash scene.
“This scene was very lit up by the emergency lights on both the emergency vehicles,” Cox said. “The paramedics had their safety vests on. None of that mattered. This guy was plowing through the scene the way he did.”
Smith, 915 East 4th St., Bogalusa, was booked into Parish Prison on counts of first-offense DWI, negligent vehicular injuring, hit and run, reckless operation, driver’s license suspended or revoked and failure to maintain control. His bail information was not immediately available in online jail records.