WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes said the driver of an 18-wheeler that crashed Tuesday, killing a 5-year-old, turned himself into authorities Friday. Officials confirm he was released on bond several hours after he turned himself in.
Deputies reported Yasin Ibrahim, 44, of Minnesota, faces one count of negligent homicide and four counts of negligent injury and one count of careless operation of a motor vehicle. He was accompanied by an attorney when he surrendered to deputies Friday morning. His bond was set at $5,000. Cazes said the bond amount was reached due to Ibrahim's cooperation with the investigation.
Officials reported Xander Cruz Benoit died following a crash that also injured six adults on I-10 East in West Baton Rouge Parish on Tuesday. The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office said the 5-year-old was trapped in one of the cars. Deputies added Charges are expected to be upgraded now that one of the crash victims has died.
The wreck happened near LA 1. Officials said a total of eight people were sent to the hospital and all had to be freed from their vehicles by the jaws of life. Deputies said an 18-wheeler driven by Ibrahim crashed into several cars when it failed to stop fast enough. Officials said a total of five vehicles were involved in the crash.
A look from the WAFB Sky Cam showed traffic snarled for miles along I-10 East just before LA 1. On the ground, crews worked for much of the afternoon to clean up the wreckage after at least five vehicles slammed into each other around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The wreck was cleared after roughly two hours of backups, but the scene was all too familiar. It's one of at least a handful of wrecks that have choked up the interstate near the Lobdell exit in the past few months.
Back in April, flames shot up from a fiery five-car pileup in roughly the same spot. That one killed an Alexandria man after police say the driver of an 18-wheeler failed to stop fast enough and plowed into the driver.
Just two days before, an 18-wheeler rear-ended a big rig and caused a lane closure and backups for at least a mile.
While the cause of Tuesday's wreck is still under investigation, DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett said most of the problems in the area can be blamed on distractions.
"You're crossing the Atchafalaya Basin and it's a good time to get distracted. You don't have a whole lot to look at. You might be unfortunately looking at your phone and you might not be paying attention," said Mallett.
The interstate bottlenecks before the bridge as drivers head into Baton Rouge. Mallett says they are aware of the slow downs and have put several measures in place to warn drivers. "We're doing what we can with the resources that we have to put out reflective tape, buttons, message boards, and the 511 app we've expanded," said Mallett.
Even though the Baton Rouge area is no stranger to traffic issues, Mallett believes some of the fix ultimately falls on what folks do behind the wheel.
"I do think that it is preventable, so pay attention to what you're doing and buckle up and don't drive distracted. All of those things are important," he added.
The westbound side was also shut down for a time while crews worked to clear the wreckage.