RAMAH, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police reported a man was killed in a crash involving two 18-wheelers and another vehicle on I-10 East on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge early Friday morning.
The victim was identified as Alton Ortego, 50, of Lafayette.
The crash happened on I-10 East at mile marker 133, which is a few miles before Ramah, around 4 a.m. A witness described the crash as "horrific."
Tpr. Bryan Lee with LSP said the preliminary investigation showed the initial crash involved two 18-wheelers. The witness said one 18-wheeler rear-ended the other one. Lee said the two big rigs were both stopped in the right lane. He added the drivers had put out emergency triangles to signal other drivers of the wreck.
It is believed about 10 minutes after that first crash that Ortego, driving a 2003 Ford Escape, happened upon the wreck. According to Lee, Ortego was in the right lane and swerved left to avoid hitting the first 18-wheeler, which he dodged, but then swerved back to the right and slammed into the back of the trailer of the second 18-wheeler.
Lee stated Ortego was pronounced dead at the scene by the Iberville Parish Coroner's Office. The driver of the 18-wheeler hit by the SUV was identified as Charles Spotts, 53, of Leaksville, Louisiana. He was taken to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital with moderate injuries.
According to Lee, impairment is not suspected as a factor in the crash. Per normal procedure for deadly crashes on Louisiana highways, blood samples will be taken from the drivers and sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis.
The wreck caused the complete shutdown of I-10 East in that area for about an hour. The left lane reopened just after 5 a.m. The right lane remained blocked until 8 a.m.
It is believed one of the big rigs was carrying beer because the crash left beer cans scattered across the interstate.
Witnesses also said at least one other vehicle, possibly two, were left with flat tires after rolling over debris.