A judge set bail at $50,000 Monday for a man accused of plowing his ATV into a crowd after a second-line parade over the weekend — just as another man was pleading guilty to killing a woman with a similar off-road vehicle in an incident in 2014.
Police said none of the victims of Sunday’s incident, in which an allegedly drunken ATV rider crashed into five people in the Lower 9th Ward, suffered life-threatening injuries.
But the 10-year sentence handed down for the man involved in the 2014 fatal collision underscored the continuing danger from off-road vehicles, which are illegal on city streets.
Earl Guy III, 31, already was “speeding in a reckless manner” on a Honda ATV when a police officer tried to stop him near St. Claude Avenue and Lizardi Street about 5:15 p.m., according to an arrest report.
When an officer ordered him to turn off the vehicle, according to the report, Guy took off into a crowd that had gathered for the second-line.
Cmdr. Anthony “Buddy” Micheu, of the New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Division, said the worst injuries were a broken collarbone on one victim and cuts and scrapes on another.
Guy was taken into custody after his ATV flipped over, according to the arrest report. His breath smelled of alcohol, and he failed a field sobriety test, according to police. He had a blood-alcohol content of .153 percent, almost twice the legal limit for driving of .08, police said.
Police booked Guy on counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injuring and vehicular negligent injuring. A judge set his bail at $50,000 and appointed the Orleans Public Defenders Office to represent him.
Guy has previous convictions for attempted possession of a firearm by a felon and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine from 2005, according to court records, as well as distribution of marijuana in 2003. He also pleaded guilty in March 2010 to public drunkenness.
The incident on Sunday could have been worse, as a separate case that came to a partial conclusion Monday demonstrated.
Daphnie Cola, a 37-year-old mother of two, was struck by an ATV rider on the night of July 27, 2014, outside Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge at 1500 N. Claiborne Ave. She remained in the hospital for a week before she died.
Police arrested Darrin Smith Jr. in the case along with two others a few months later. Smith was charged with manslaughter.
Smith pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and accessory after the fact before Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White on Monday, according to court records. White sentenced him to 10 years in prison and gave him credit for time served.
Cola’s sister appeared before the New Orleans City Council after her sister died and made an emotional plea to get off-road vehicles off city streets. All such vehicles are illegal in New Orleans, and police announced a crackdown on ATVs after Cola’s death, but they remain a common sight at large gatherings like second-lines.
Micheu said offenders can be cited for everything from lacking registration to reckless driving.
“We’ve had incidences where I’ve watched individuals be struck by these. I’ve had instances where these individuals are totally oblivious to any kind of laws and state statutes,” Micheu said. “We’re only as good as the public are on finding these vehicles and taking custody over them.”