Louisiana news briefs
Driver booked with 4th DWI, vehicular homicide
CROWLEY (AP) — A Branch man is in jail after a fatal crash on La. 35 north of Rayne.
Louisiana State Police say 48-year-old Jody Bourque was arrested on charges of 4th offense DWI, vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular negligent injuring.
Troopers say Bourque was headed south on La. 35 at just before 10 p.m. Christmas night when he crossed the centerline and hit a northbound car head-on.
Authorities say Bourque was treated at the scene for minor injuries. The other driver, 35-year-old Germaine Garrick, of Church Point, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two passengers in Garrick’s car were transported to area hospitals with severe to minor injuries.
Investigators say Bourque was impaired and had disabled an ignition interlock device he was required to have installed in his vehicle.
Fire that killed 3 in Houma started in living room
HOUMA (AP) — A fire inspector says the blaze that killed three children from Alabama started in the living room of the mobile home in Houma where they were staying.
Houma fire inspector Michael Millett said Thursday that a space heater may have started the fire, but there was so much damage investigators may never be certain.
Terrebonne Parish Coroner’s Office chief investigator Danny Theriot identified the victims as 13-year-old Roxana Mejia and her brothers, 11-year-old Josue Mejia and 9-year-old Rommy Mejia.
State Fire Marshal’s office District Chief Lance LaMarca says another sibling, the children’s parents and four other children were taken to a Baton Rouge burn unit.
LaMarca says the children’s father was burned rescuing one child after smoke came under his bedroom door, but was unable to get the other three.
Man accused of dumping industrial wastes into sewers
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A federal indictment alleges that the owner of Baton Rouge Tank Wash took $371,000 to illegally dump 6.3 million gallons of industrial wastes into city-parish sewers between March 2009 and September 2012. The chemicals allegedly were untreated, undertreated or wastes for which the company did not have a permit.
Roger Dies, 55, of Zachary, is charged with witness tampering, obstructing justice, and five Clean Water Act violations, one of them a felony. He’s also charged with making two felony false statements to government investigators and creating three sets of false documents.
Dies could not be reached for comment.
BP appeals ruling in dispute over spill settlement
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP is appealing a judge’s rejection of its argument that claimants who can’t trace their losses directly to the company’s 2010 Gulf oil spill shouldn’t receive payments through a multibillion-dollar settlement with a team of private plaintiffs’ lawyers.
BP attorneys filed a notice of appeal Thursday, two days after the ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.
The judge said in Tuesday’s order that BP’s settlement was designed to avoid the delays that would result from a “claim-by claim analysis” of whether each claim can be traced to the spill.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Barbier erred when he initially refused to consider BP’s “causation” arguments.
The same panel will consider BP’s latest appeal.
BP ad’s ‘distorted’ claims
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two former top officials at the settlement program for compensating victims of BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill say their recent resignations had nothing to do with the company’s allegations that they frequented a New Orleans strip club that received a settlement award.
Kirk Fisher, the settlement program’s former chief operating officer, said in an email to The Associated Press late Monday that he and former program CEO David Odom left last week to pursue “other opportunities.”
In an advertisement that ran Monday in three major newspapers, BP claimed Fisher and Odom resigned following reports that they entertained subordinates at a strip club that was awarded more than $550,000 for its settlement claim.
Fisher denied that he or Odom engaged in any wrongdoing and said they won’t address BP’s “shamefully distorted implications” about them.
Engineer selected for new state veterans cemetery
RAYVILLE (AP) — Meyer Engineers of Metairie has been selected to design the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Richland Parish.
The company is also designing the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Slidell.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, once Congress approves its 2014 budget, is expected to pay the $7 million to $10 million cost to develop the 50-acre site near Rayville.
The land, near Interstate 20 and U.S. 425, was donated by the Franklin family. It’s supposed to hold graves of about 35,000 veterans and their families.
The state will pay operating expenses, including a staff of 10 to 15 workers, as it does at existing state cemeteries in Keithville and Leesville.
Construction of the cemetery is expected to take about 18 months after plans are set.
Former state fire marshal dies
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Former state fire marshal Carrol Herring has died.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, in a news release Thursday, said Herring died at a Baton Rouge hospital following a long illness. He was 86 years old.
Herring served as state fire marshal from 1981 until 1990, serving under governors Dave Treen, Edwin Edwards, and Buddy Roemer.
Prior to his appointment, Herring worked 15 years in the Baton Rouge Fire Department and 18 years with the LSU Firemen Training Program, including 15 years as the program’s director.
Herring returned to lead the then-renamed LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute in 1999. He remained the program’s director until his second retirement in 2005. In 2012, the institute was renamed in Herring’s honor.
From The Associated Press.