New Orleans Police Department says alligator to blame for fatal crash on Interstate 10 _lowres

Picture of an alligator who caused a fatal accident on I-10. (photo by Antwan Harris, WWL-TV)

An alligator caused a fatal crash Friday morning on Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans, authorities said.

Two other people were injured in the crash, which happened about 4 a.m. in the eastbound lanes just past the Michoud Boulevard exit.

According to New Orleans police, a man driving a Ford van in the middle lane struck the alligator and hit his brakes after the animal became lodged underneath his vehicle.

A Mississippi man driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse rear-ended the van.

The Mississippi man, whose name was not released, was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene, said Lt. Anthony Micheu, of the New Orleans Police Department.

The driver of the van and a female passenger in the Eclipse were taken to the hospital with injuries. Police did not have any information about their conditions.

No citations were issued in the crash, but Micheu said investigators were still interviewing witnesses. “There are some extenuating circumstances that may have led to this fatality,” he said.

Micheu said police frequently encounter dead alligators along the roadway that have been struck by motorists, but he could not recall a previous fatal crash involving an alligator.

The right and middle lanes of the interstate heading toward Slidell were closed until about 6:30 a.m.