WALKER — A state prisoner in a work release program affiliated with the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office died Thursday afternoon after he suffered a head injury while working with construction materials, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Jason Ard said Thursday night his investigators have initially determined that Ronnie Francois of Livingston was killed in a "tragic accident."
Francois, 50, died shortly before 3 p.m. while working at a location in the 36000 block of Corbin Road in Walker on a job manufacturing construction materials, Ard said. The sheriff did not name the business for which Francois was working.
Francois, whose criminal history wasn't immediately available, was working through the Livingston Transitional Work Program.
The program is based at 150-bed facility located off U.S. Highway 190 in Walker on Sheriff's Office land near the Waste Management landfill.
Francois had been transferred to the inmate housing facility Oct. 1 and approved to work two days later, said Hootie Lockhart, the managing partner of the privately run program.
Lock5 LLC, a Walker company owned by Lockhart and others, has been running Livingston TWP through a contract with the Sheriff's Office since January and pays Ard rent, the company's manager partner said.
The Sheriff's Office issued $2.8 million in long-term debt in 2014 to build the Livingston TWP building, a 2017 audit says.
Lori Steele, a spokeswoman for Ard, referred further questions about Francois to the state Department of Corrections and the managers of the work release program.
The Livingston Parish Coroner's Office pronounced Francois dead at scene. No foul play is suspected, Ard said.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the Francois family as they grieve the loss of a man who was working toward turning his life around through the program," Ard said in a statement.
The case remains under investigation.
Lockhart said the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified about the workplace fatality.
A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections was not immediately available Thursday night.