Calcasieu Parish – On January 15, 2020, shortly before 6:00 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop D responded to a fatal crash involving four vehicles on I-10 about 4 miles west of Vinton in Calcasieu Parish. The crash claimed the life of 83-year-old Gabriel Prejean of Vinton, LA.
The preliminary investigation revealed a 2011 Chevrolet pickup truck, driven by 76-year-old Mario De La Cruz of Anahuac, TX., was traveling the wrong way on I-10 prior to the crash. For reasons still under investigation, De La Cruz struck a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado driven by 52-year-old Timothy C. Mullins of Gonzales while traveling east in the westbound lanes of travel. After the initial impact, the Chevrolet driven by De La Cruz struck a westbound 2002 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Prejean head-on. The impact caused Prejean’s pickup truck to strike a 2004 Lexus GS 300 driven by 61-year-old Harold D. Zimmerman of Katy, TX.
Despite being properly restrained, Prejean sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash and was pronounced deceased at the scene. De La Cruz, who was properly restrained, sustained minor injuries and was transported to a Lake Charles area hospital for treatment. Both Mullins and Zimmerman were property restrained and were not injured. Toxicology samples were obtained and will be submitted for analysis. Charges are pending and the crash remains under investigation.
Louisiana State Troopers would like to take this opportunity to remind motorists to always make good decisions while operating motor vehicles. Never drive while impaired, fatigued, or distracted, always ensure every occupant is properly restrained, and follow all traffic laws. While not all crashes are survivable, taking simple precautions such as these can often mean the difference between life and death.
Troop D has investigated 3 fatal crashes resulting in 3 deaths.