A Gretna man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for crashing his Ford Explorer into a Mardi Gras tractor in Harvey, killing its operator.
Michael Burrle, 56, pleaded guilty to reckless operation of a vehicle stemming from the February 2015 incident, in which Burrle led Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s officers on a chase and struck the tractor driven by Don J. Dauzat at about 2:50 a.m. near Lapalco Boulevard and Paxton Street in Harvey.
Dauzat, who was heading for a staging area for the Knights of King Arthur Carnival Parade, was ejected from the tractor after it rolled 70 feet. He died less than a day later in a New Orleans hospital from injuries to his skull and brain, according to a civil suit filed by his family.
The suit, which is still pending in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, says Burrle was suspected of driving while intoxicated when he was chased by police.
Judge Ray Steib handed down the sentence after accepting Burrle’s plea.
The civil lawsuit, which seeks damages from the Sheriff’s Office, Excalibur and a number of other defendants, claims the deputy chasing Burrle violated Louisiana’s “due care” standard by going over the speed limit without his emergency flashers or siren on.
The suit also blames Excalibur, King Arthur, PFJ Float Co. and others for failing to provide tractor drivers with a police escort for the latter part of the night.
Dauzat, 52, worked as a safety coordinator at the Monsanto plant in Luling.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.