The Metro Council will appoint an interim council member to represent East Baton Rouge Parish's 8th District by the end of the month — likely on July 18 — following the death of Councilman Buddy Amoroso in a West Feliciana Parish bicycle accident.
Amoroso, 61, died Saturday after he and another rider were struck as they rode along La. 66 west of St. Francisville. A Lafayette man remained jailed Monday afternoon on charges of negligent homicide, negligent injuring and limitations on passing bicycles.
For now, the council must decide who will fill Amoroso’s seat temporarily. In the past, members have looked to their deceased colleagues' families to see if they have a preference or if a spouse would like to take the interim position, Council Administrator Ashley Beck said.
District voters will elect a representative on March 30, 2019, to complete Amoroso's term, which concludes in 2020, Council Administrator Ashley Beck said.
However, any council member may nominate any elector who lives in the district and the public will also have a chance to weigh in. District 8 is bounded by Coursey Boulevard, Airline Highway and South Sherwood Forest Boulevard to the West, Old Jefferson Highway and Tiger Bend Road to the South, O'Neal Lane on the East and South Old Hammond Highway to the north, Beck said.
By law, a new member must be appointed by July 20. Beck expects the council to call a special meeting after its zoning meeting July 18. The meeting will be open to the public.
Amoroso’s term was to end in 2020. District 8 voters will have a chance to choose who finishes that term during a special election on March 30, Beck said. Qualifying for the March election will occur Jan. 30 through Feb. 1.
Amoroso was unopposed when he first ran in 2012 and faced two opponents during his 2016 re-election bid. Antoine Pierce claimed 23 percent of the vote, while Wendell Piper took 11 percent. Both men are Democrats; Amoroso was a Republican.
Diane Clement, wife of Thomas Clement, 71, who was injured in the crash, said her husband and Amoroso were training along the Tunica Trace Byway for Hotter’N Hell Hundred, a 100-mile ride through Texas in August.
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The bicyclists, who trained together three times a week, were in the Tunica Hills to train for elevation changes, Diane Clement said. At the time of the crash, they were nearly finished. Tom Clement and Amoroso would take turns drafting behind each other to preserve their energy, and at the time of the wreck, Clement was leading while Amoroso followed.
Diane Clement said troopers haven’t told her about any factors that may have contributed to the crash, such as whether the driver accused of striking the men was intoxicated, distracted or speeding. State Police did tell her the bicyclists were riding safely, Clement said.
Diane Clement said Amoroso and her husband wore helmets and used mirrors while riding.
A toxicology test was performed on driver Nicholas Alexander, 21, but results are pending, State Police Senior Trooper Bryan Lee said Monday afternoon.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, Alexander remained in the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center, where his bond has been set at $17,500, local sheriff’s spokeswoman Erin Foster said.
Tom Clement remains in the critical care unit at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Diane Clement said. The hospital has officially listed him in “good” condition, though he still has surgery and lots of physical therapy ahead, his wife said.
The crash “should serve as a wake-up call for us all,” said East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Her administration is currently asking for a half-cent sales tax to fund road improvements.
It was not evident how much money would go toward bicycle lanes; Broome wrote in a Monday email that $40 million of the $1 billion worth of projects would be used for bike path and sidewalk enhancements.
The city-parish, parks commission and state Department of Transportation and Development is also working on a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan to inform where to prioritize new routes and upgrades, the mayor added.
While the city lost a dedicated public servant in Amoroso, it will also miss Tom Clement’s vigor for awhile as he recovers, Diane Clement said. Her husband organizes social events for Istrouma high alums, he’s the past president of Bike Baton Rouge and he and his wife still run their store, Patio Pool and Fence, Diane Clement said.