Family of victim in fatal Lamborghini crash seeks 'compassion ... accountability' as driver is identified _lowres

Kristi Lirette

Among her many tattoos, Kristi Lynn Lirette wore one down her back that read “Dream Big.”

She got it two years ago with her mom, Diana King, who had the same saying scrawled on her foot just before her “Kristibug” headed off to live in Texas — a new adventure for a free spirit.

Lirette, 23, wasn’t afraid, in ink or words, to say her piece, King said through tears Thursday, a week after her daughter was killed while riding in a Lamborghini that crashed into a floodwall on Tchoupitoulas Street.

“She was good, bad, compassionate. She was solid. She was truthful. She told you what you needed to hear, because she loved that way,” King said.

Three days after King and Brett Lirette buried their daughter in Baton Rouge, her hometown, they were still grasping for answers about the crash and the driver, a young real estate broker and investor who had befriended Kristi Lirette at Wayfare, the Freret Street eatery where she waited tables and tended bar.

The New Orleans Police Department has yet to book or even identify the 30-year-old man, Jason Adams, whose business interests extend from a Baton Rouge office building to a New Orleans breast surgery center.

NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests that will be “a large factor” in a decision on any charges.

Other aspects of the crash, such as the Lamborghini’s speed when it crashed, remain under investigation, Gamble said.

An attorney for Adams confirmed that the young businessman was behind the wheel of the leased 2015 Lamborghini when it crashed along the riverfront at Felicity Street in the Lower Garden District just before midnight on May 4.

Adams was hospitalized with a broken leg and other injuries. He has since been released, according to his attorney, Nandi Campbell.

“He is traumatized by this. He’s a father. He’s a husband. He runs a business. This was a tragic accident. He’s not trying to shrink from responsibility,” Campbell said. “The fact that he lived is a small miracle, and he knows that. He’s laying low because he’s trying to process what happened that night. He’s trying to find a way to cope with it.”

Campbell declined to say whether Adams had been drinking or how fast he was driving as he and Lirette traveled downriver. She said Adams flew through the windshield before impact with the floodwall.

“He believes he was spared because he didn’t have his seat belt on,” Campbell said of Adams, whom she described as a native New Orleanian and self-made businessman.

To Lirette’s family, however, his silence has been crushing.

Adams, a Wayfare regular, had met Lirette’s mother and her brother, Phillip, at the restaurant. It was Phillip who called the Coroner’s Office and learned of her death — based on a description of her tattoos — when she failed to turn up at his Gentilly home, where she was living.

“If he (Adams) had never met Phillip, if he had never met me ... but he did,” King sobbed. “He knows she’s loved, but he made no attempt to contact us to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ or ‘Find her mom; tell her what’s happened.’ ”

The family has hired a private attorney, Steven DeBosier, who said his investigation suggests that Adams was driving over 100 mph before the crash. The family intends to file a civil lawsuit against Adams, he said.

Brett Lirette said he doesn’t believe the crash can be considered an accident.

“If you go down Tchoupitoulas at 40 mph and cross the center line, that’s an accident. If you’re going 100 mph, that’s reckless and just stupid,” he said.

“I feel sorry for him. I don’t have hate for him, but what I want is for him to show some compassion and be held accountable,” he added. “I don’t know what that means. I want truth and justice. He took my daughter’s life, and I’ll never get her back.”

Campbell said Adams had wanted to wait until after Monday’s funeral to contact the family, but by then, the family had hired DeBosier, and Adams refrained from making contact.

“He considered Kristi a friend and did not want to invade the family’s space,” Campbell said.

The website for one of the companies that Adams runs, Metairie-based Elite Southern Realty, was taken down overnight Wednesday.

Personally and through his real estate and medical billing firms, Adams has been an active political contributor, according to state campaign finance records.

In 2014, Adams and two of those firms, Elite Investment Group and Elite Medical Enterprises, loaned New Orleans Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse $15,000 for his campaign, interest-free.

“I know him through a mutual friend. He owns a number of businesses, and he was very generous in the campaign,” Rouse said.

Rouse said he didn’t see a conflict in handling Lirette’s case.

“The cause and manner of death in Kristi’s death are quite apparent to all, and the Coroner’s Office plays no role whatsoever in determining guilt or innocence and played no role whatsoever in the selection of toxicology evidence. We concerned ourselves with the decedent,” not with Adams, he said.

Her parents said Lirette moved to New Orleans eight months ago after a brief stint in San Diego, where a boyfriend since childhood, Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Henry Halk, is readying for deployment, they said.

They had planned to marry on a yacht following his deployment.

“At that time of her life, her ‘Dream Big’ was in San Diego,” Brett Lirette said. “That didn’t happen.”

Halk showed up Wednesday night, to seek a posthumous blessing from her father.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.