New Orleans police are looking for a “person of interest” in a hit-and-run that killed a 72-year-old woman this year in the 7th Ward. The woman, Carolene England, was crossing the street with a walker when she was struck by a vehicle that then fled the scene.
Police said they are trying to locate Bryan Blanchard, 36, whom they identified as the owner of the orange Ford Mustang that struck the woman about 3:25 a.m. March 29 near Elysian Fields Avenue and North Dorgenois Street.
Garry Flot, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman, said investigators have “exhausted all means” of trying to find Blanchard. He said Blanchard is not a suspect in England’s death but “a person who may have critical information about the incident.”
A witness told police that England was walking along Elysian Fields, apparently trying to cross the street. The witness, who had been driving southbound on Elysian Fields, said the Mustang sped up to pass in the right lane and struck the woman, sending her airborne.
The driver of the Mustang drove away without stopping, authorities said, while the witness pulled over and dialed 911.
Acting on a Crimestoppers tip, investigators later found the Mustang abandoned in an empty lot near Industrial Court and Clouet Street — less than 2 miles from the crash site. Police said they found damage to the vehicle consistent with hitting a pedestrian, including fibers embedded in the windshield that appeared to have come from the clothing England was wearing when she was killed.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office determined England died of “multiple blunt-force injuries.” The office classified the death as an accident, spokesman Mason Harrison said.
Police determined the Mustang was registered to Blanchard.
Detective Kevin Thompson went to one of Blanchard’s last known addresses, in Chalmette, and spoke with his sister. The woman told Thompson her brother “was a street person and he was not allowed to live at her residence due to the amount of illegal interactions he was involved in,” according to a search warrant. The sister added that she had no means of contacting Blanchard.
Police found a phone number for Blanchard after determining he had been the victim of a simple battery in August . In that case, Blanchard had been listed as living at 1201 Louisa St., a vacant lot.
Police found a photograph of Blanchard online, the warrant says, and determined the Mustang involved in the crash had, in fact, been his property. The search warrant, signed April 23 by Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, ordered Sprint Communications to provide account location information for the cellphone number for several days in late March — including the morning of the fatal crash — and early April.
The search warrant, Thompson said in a court filing, also was intended to determine whether Blanchard had any correspondence relating to the crash. It’s not clear whether any of the cellphone data implicated Blanchard.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.