I-59 accident takes four lives, three identified

Published 8:51 pm Friday, July 9, 2010

An accident on Interstate 59 Friday morning took the lives of four people, three have so far been identified as local residents.

The accident occurred on the Louisiana side of Interstate 59, just past the Nicholson exit at about 9 a.m. when an 18 wheeler apparently hit a Dodge pickup truck almost head on, killing four people inside the pick up truck. The driver of the semi suffered only minor injuries.

The driver of the 2003 Freightliner was identified as 37 year-old Juan Torres of Montgomery, Texas. So far only three of the four people who died in the accident have been identified. The truck’s driver has been identified as 57 year-old Daniel Dickson, of Carriere. Two of his passengers have been identified as 76 year-old Eva Farrugia and 35 year-old Thomas Farrugia III, both from Carriere. The fourth occupant has yet to be identified, according to a release from the Louisiana State Police. Louisiana State Police Trooper First Class Nicholas Manale said at the scene of the accident that all four occupants of the Dodge pick up were pronounced dead on scene.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Manale said Friday morning at the scene that initial investigation into the accident shows that the front left tire on the 18 wheeler blew out, causing the driver to lose control for an unknown reason and leave the north bound lane, entering the median. After crossing the median the tractor-trailer entered the south bound lane, hitting the Dodge pickup on the left driver’s side of the vehicle, almost head-on.

During the accident both vehicles left the right hand side of the sound bound lane, coming to rest in the tree line. The pickup truck was crushed severely and three of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle during the accident. The fourth passenger had to be extricated. The release states that the three passengers who were ejected were not wearing seatbelts.

Torres was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He has since been booked into the St. Tammany Parish jail on charges of careless operation of a vehicle and four counts of negligent homicide. Alcohol use is not suspected on the part of either vehicle driver, but toxicology tests are being conducted on Torres, the release states.

Manale said his troop has a specialist on staff who will collect the details leading to the charges against Torres.

A third vehicle was following behind the Dodge truck at the time of the accident and was also involved. The release states it was a 2005 Mercedes SUV driven by 39 year-old Jessica Garcia of Gretna, La. When the accident occurred debris hit the Mercedes damaging the windshield. Garcia was not injured in the accident.