BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The names of the five people killed in a fiery head-on collision Sunday night have been released and three of them were children.
The Louisiana State Police identified the victims as Effie Fontenot, 29; Kimberly Stagg, 19; Keagan Fontenot, 11; Hunter Johnson, 7; and Austin Fontenot, 3. They were all from Prairieville, LA.
All five victims were inside a car driven by Fontenot that caught fire when a truck slammed into it. The crash happened on I-10 East between Highland Road and Manchac around 9 p.m.
The driver of the truck was identified as David Leger, 29, of Palmetto, LA. He was treated and released from Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge. His passenger, Rebecca Obrien, 28, of Bunkie, remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. The drivers of two other vehicles involved in the crash were not hurt.
At this time, no one has been charged in the crash. Trooper Russell Graham with the LSP said the investigation is still continuing and charges "may be filed pending the outcome of the investigation."
In a news release Monday, troopers reported the preliminary investigation showed a 2005 GMC pickup and a 2001 Mercedes SUV were headed on I-10 West when they collided.
Investigators said the pickup then crossed the median as it started spinning and sideswiped the trailer of an 18-wheeler. They reported the pickup then plowed head-on into the 1997 Acura with five people inside.
They added the car stopped immediately upon impact and burst into flames. The pickup split in two and stopped off the right shoulder of I-10 East.
Kevin Patton was driving home from New Orleans and witnessed the horrific wreck unfold in front of his eyes.
"A dark-colored SUV cut me off at an extremely high rate of speed, probably in excess of 80 miles an hour," Patton said. "And, this white pickup truck was following right behind him, apparently chasing him."
Seconds later, he could only watch as the pickup crashed head-on into the car, causing it to catch fire.
"We backed off. We saw the white pickup truck leave the interstate, cross over the other lane, strike the van," Patton explained.
According to Patton, one of the drivers may have provoked the other, leading to violent behavior while behind the wheel.
"Obviously, they were playing tag or chase or the other truck had made him mad at some point. It was a case of road rage or something of that effect," he stated.
Marie said the truck was moving at a high rate of speed when it slammed into the oncoming car. He did not speculate about how fast the vehicle was possibly going. When it was all over, it was difficult to tell the charred, tangled mass of metal was once a car. The truck was split in half. The frame and bed were left completely separated.
"We were far enough back after it happened. There was a lot of dust and debris flying around. The truck appeared to be cut in half. We stopped and called 911," Patton added.
Troopers are still trying to figure out exactly what caused the crash. They reported a liquor bottle was found inside the truck. Toxicology results are pending on the driver of the pickup.
The last image to the right is a little blurry, but it gives an idea of the huge flames that were a result of the collision. The photo was sent in by a motorist who happened upon it. You can also see firefighters trying to put out the blaze, which appears to be twice as tall as they are.