The New Orleans police officer who died after a suspected drunk driver struck her vehicle was working at the scene of a crash that had occurred nearly four hours earlier, according to a report.
The first crash, involving multiple vehicles, was first reported around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, WWL-TV reported, citing the New Orleans Police Department. The first officer arrived to the scene at Interstate 10 eastbound near the Esplanade Avenue off-ramp at 11:02 p.m.
Officer Natasha Hunter, 31, arrived at the scene around 2 a.m. Sunday, WWL reported. Police said Chau Thai Nguyen, 33, crashed his black Acura into the rear of Hunter’s police vehicle at a “high rate of speed” around 2:30 a.m.
Hunter, an 11-year veteran of the force and the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, was taken to University Medical Center but had suffered severe brain injuries and was “non-responsive” after the crash. She died Tuesday.
NOPD is investigating to determine whether tow trucks were delayed in getting to the scene, WWL reported. An attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police told the station that most accidents are cleared in one or two hours.
“Clearing the accident scenes can take differing amounts of time, based on the damage to the vehicles, how many vehicles were involved, the injuries, that sort of thing,” Donovan Livacarri said.
Nguyen has been booked on vehicular homicide but not on drunken driving. Police said they are awaiting the results of toxicology tests but said they believe he was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
The Police Department released details Wednesday on memorial plans for Hunter.
A public visitation will occur from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at Rhodes Funeral Home, 3933 Washington Ave. A public viewing and memorial service will take place Monday at St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, 5600 Read Blvd. The viewing will be from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; the memorial will begin at 11 a.m.
Burial will take place immediately afterward at Providence Memorial Park, 8200 Airline Drive, Metairie.