State prosecutors said Monday they did not have enough evidence to bring a negligent homicide charge against St. James Parish Councilman Terry McCreary in a September 2013 fatal crash that led to the death of a 74-year-old Paulina man.
McCreary, 64, pleaded no contest Monday to careless operation in the Sept. 5, 2013, crash in Lutcher, prosecutors said.
Preston O. Barras Jr. died nearly two weeks later from his injuries in the head-on collision. McCreary and the driver of a third vehicle were also injured.
Laura Gerdes Colligan, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Judge Jessie LeBlanc, of the 23rd Judicial District, ordered McCreary to pay a traffic fine of $180 and court costs after he entered the no contest plea Monday in Convent.
McCreary, who is a parish School Board maintenance and operations manager, crashed his school system pickup head-on into Barras’ Ford pickup, which was southbound on two-lane Lutcher Avenue, Lutcher police have said.
McCreary had swerved out of the northbound lane to avoid a Chevrolet Trailblazer that was stopped ahead of him near the entrance to St. James Parish Hospital.
A Lutcher police report says McCreary was going 45 mph in a 40 mph zone and told officers he did not see the stopped Trailblazer.
The plea means McCreary, a first-term councilman, avoided possible jail time and the risk of being required to step down from office.
Lutcher police officers initially cited McCreary, 20756 La. 3125, also of Paulina, with careless operation, but he was arrested in February on the negligent homicide count after officers finished their probe.
District Attorney Ricky Babin recused his office from the case because it represents the Parish Council.
The Attorney General’s Office mulled for months whether to bring the negligent homicide charge, postponing an initial arraignment date after his arrest in February and letting another possible date pass June 23.
A woman answering the phone at McCreary’s home Monday afternoon said he was not home.
McCreary remains employed with the school system but has been prohibited from driving, school officials said.
“Until we get all this in writing, that still is his status,” Superintendent Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce said.