The woman killed Monday night in a fiery crash that officials said an 18-year-old intentionally caused was a devoted mother and wife who dedicated her life to inspiring others after she lost a daughter in 2016.
Stephanie Payne, who ran a motivational organization called 'I'm Alive 2 Thrive' in honor of her late daughter, died at the scene of the crash Monday about 10 p.m. at the intersection of Siegen Lane and Perkins Road.
"She was a vibrant, wonderful person and she’s going to be missed,” said Avery Davidson, a friend of Payne's and a co-worker of her husband's at the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. "Never a negative energy, despite all she had been through.”
Jack Jordan, 18, was arrested on second-degree murder after he told police that God instructed him to kill himself, prompting him to drive into the other vehicle at a speed of at least 90 mph, according to his arrest warrant. The posted speed limit on Siegen Lane is 45 mph.
The 18-year-old suspect in the fatal, fiery crash that killed a 51-year-old woman Monday night told police that he believed God instructed him…
Jordan is accused of intentionally hitting Payne's stopped vehicle at a high rate of speed, engulfing her Nissan Rogue in flames through the intersection of Siegen Lane and Perkins Road, according to State Police.
An employee at The Advocate was sitting at that intersection late Monday when she heard a noise, then looked up to see a pickup pushing another vehicle through the entire intersection at Siegen Lane and Perkins Road, then even further.
Leila Pitchford-English said the second vehicle, later identified as Payne's, was on fire almost immediately after the initial crash. But Pitchford-English said the pickup continued to plow forward, pushing the vehicle northbound on Siegen Lane, entirely through the intersection then onward for at least another 100 feet until stopping near the Walgreens on Siegen Lane.
"He just kept going," Pitchford-English said. "There were people running there to help, but by the time anyone could get there, it was way too late."
Investigators said they do not believe Jordan, of Baton Rouge, knew Payne, 51, of Greenwell Springs.
State Police spokesman Trooper Taylor Scrantz said impairment is not suspected to be a factor in the crash, but toxicology samples were taken from Jordan. Scrantz said investigators were unaware, as of Tuesday, of any mental health history or diagnoses involving Jordan. According to LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard III, Jordan was scheduled to attend the university in the fall, following a spring semester he had spent in their dual enrollment program, which allows current high school students to take some courses.
Davidson, acting as a spokesman for the Payne family, asked for prayers for them as they move forward. Payne is survived by her husband Tim and daughter Isabella. Her daughter Savannah died unexpectedly in 2016 of health complications, inspiring Stephanie Payne's current work of motivational talks and grief counseling.
The suspect in the fiery crash on Siegen Lane that killed a 51-year-old woman late Monday plowed into the woman's SUV, pushing it more than 20…
"Stephanie (was) just a ball of energy and just absolutely moving, especially when you hear her speak about Savannah," Davidson said. Payne had recently presented at a grief event in Baton Rouge.
“Stephanie was just one of these people who her personality walked into the room before she did: infectious smile, immediately engaging," Davidson said.
She was proud of her family and their relationship, often talking about her husband and daughters in her regular blog posts about family, faith, grief and inspiration.
"I now have a passion and desire for all to live in their 'sweet spot' … not just visit it from time to time like I was," Payne wrote on her website. "I welcome any opportunity to partner with individuals who may need coaching to move forward on their path."
Payne had previously worked for 25 years as a school psychologist, working with students with disabilities, according to her website. She said she had most recently been working on a book about her life since losing her daughter.
Payne adopted a dog a few years ago through the Creole Poodle Rescue in New Orleans and stayed in touch with their organization through social media, helping encourage others to rescue dogs.
"We are shocked and saddened to hear about Stephanie's death," the Creole Poodle Rescue wrote in a statement. "She was a wonderful person."
Jordan, of Baton Rouge, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of second-degree murder, reckless operation and simple escape. He was taken to the hospital after the crash for treatment of minor injuries. After he was apprehended by State Police, Scrantz said, Jordan attempted to escape their custody, but was unsuccessful.
An 18-year-old Baton Rouge teen was arrested on second-degree murder late Monday after he told police he intentionally crashed into another ve…