The driver who struck and killed Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso in late June told State Police he was driving at a slower speed than police later determined during their investigation, according to a newly available crash report.
While the report says 21-year-old Nicholas Alexander was driving faster than the 35 mph he had told police, it indicates he was within the posted speed limit of 55 mph for La. 66 in West Feliciana Parish.
Amoroso was killed and Thomas Clement was seriously injured when Alexander, of Lafayette, struck them as the two men were riding their bikes on June 30.
The report, which The Advocate obtained Tuesday, outlines new details about the crash.
Alexander wrote in a voluntary statement given to police that it “just happened so fast.”
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“I started to slow down and go around them ... there was another vehicle coming on the incoming side and I didn’t want to hit them either so I tried to make the best decision and still go around them,” Alexander wrote.
Alexander had said he had the cruise control for the rented Chevrolet Tahoe he was driving that day set for 35 mph.
The State Police investigation estimated that Alexander’s speed was between 45 and 55 miles per hour at the time he applied the brakes, according to their calculations using a “slide to stop formula.” Police wrote in their report that Alexander braked “post impact,” meaning after he struck Amoroso.
Three other passengers and an infant were inside the SUV, according to the report. One passenger, Crystal Bellows, wrote in a voluntary statement that Alexander was driving the speed limit.
She said it seemed the cyclists never knew the vehicle was behind them because while Alexander was trying to drive around them, a cyclist “moved toward the vehicle.” And Alexander wrote in his statement that one cyclist bumped the other before the crash.
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Clement, however, told police more than a month after the crash that he remembered seeing a white vehicle approach him and Amoroso from behind through a mirror attached to his helmet. Clement said he warned Amoroso that a vehicle was behind them before the Tahoe hit them. He told police he remembers little else from the crash.
Alexander wrote that he ran out of the Tahoe to check on the cyclists after the crash. He said one — Clement — was responsive and that he told him to stay still, while “the other had no movement nor a voice.” Amoroso died quickly after the crash from blunt force injuries, as he had no vital signs by the time West Feliciana public safety officials found him lying in the roadway.
Police arrested Alexander on counts of negligent homicide, negligent injuring and limitations on passing bicycles. He posted bond a few days later and was released from the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center.
Alexander told State Police that he had just dropped off his girlfriend’s stepmother at the nearby Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, for a visit and that he and his passengers were headed out to do some sightseeing.
Nicholas Alexander, the driver who allegedly struck and killed Baton Rouge metro councilman Buddy Amoroso and injured Amoroso's bicycle riding…
One witness, Amanda Smith, told police she saw a white SUV swerve ahead of her as she drove up the hill “before old 66” on her way from Angola to St. Francisville. She said she stopped her car after seeing the SUV hit the two cyclists and called 9-1-1. Smith told police in her interview with them that she was driving around 60 miles per hour, according to the report.
The State Police inspection said there were no obstructions, potholes, loose surface materials or other abnormalities in the road that contributed to the crash.
The report says Alexander voluntarily submitted to a chemical test and provided a blood sample to State Police. The results are not included in the crash report, but police wrote that they did not suspect impairment played a role in the crash. An autopsy for Amoroso also detected no alcohol or drugs in his system.
Advocate staff writer Lea Skene contributed to this report.