BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Deondrick Rudd began 2020 by planning for the rest of his life.
He’d taken some of the digital art skills he picked up while studying at Southern University to land photography gigs at celebrations around Baton Rouge. His mother says his favorite events to photograph were weddings, though that’s perhaps because he was planning a wedding of his own.
Rudd shared his 2020 plans with his mother. He’d propose to his girlfriend, Terry Evett, on Valentine’s Day. Then, he’d have a wedding attended by his closest relatives, including his 17-year-old younger sister, 20-year-old younger brother, his step-father Michael Fields, and two step-children.
Those plans were cut short Saturday, Jan. 25 at around 5:30 p.m.
Rudd was killed when a driver lost control and left the roadway, striking him on his bicycle, police believe. Investigators say two drivers were drag-racing on North Lobdell Boulevard at the time of the crash.
One driver, Christopher Brock, 56, also died after the accident. The other driver, Lattimore Brock, 67, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on two counts of vehicular homicide, DWI, drag-racing, failure to maintain control, and reckless driving.
An investigation remains ongoing.
Rudd’s mother, Dionne Harris, learned about his death around 10 p.m. Saturday night.
“When it happened, I broke down real hard. His step-father grabbed me and consoled me. He said ‘baby it’s going to be alright.’ I told him ‘no, it’s not going to be alright because he’s gone,’" said Harris.
Harris said she spent the rest of the night traveling from her home in Lake Charles to Jeanerette where her mother lives. Because Rudd’s listed address on his license was in Jeanerette, his grandmother was the first family member to learn of his death and had to share the news with the rest of the family.
Jeanerette was where Rudd was born, lived throughout his childhood, and graduated from Jeanerette Senior High School in 2013.
Harris said watching Rudd play on Jeanerette Senior High School’s football team led to some of the proudest moments of her life.
"He didn’t know too much about it, but he did what he had to do on the field for his team,” said Harris.
Hours before his death, Harris said she had her last conversation with her son. That conversation ended as all others did between the two of them, with the expression of their love.
“I said, ‘Deondrick I love you.’ He said, ‘I love you too mom.’ That was our last conversation,” said Harris. “Love your children unconditionally. Tell them all the time when you talk to them because you never know. When that time comes you may not have that chance.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Harris said she’s spending time with her loved ones. Harris says the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office is in possession of Rudd’s body and investigating, so she won’t be able to see him before he is turned over the funeral home and family can say their final goodbyes.
For now, the family is looking to the past, and reminiscing on the impact Rudd had on all of their lives.
“Deondrick was just so humble. He had a great personality. His character about him was just wonderful. He was a people person. He got along with everybody. He never got into no trouble, drama or anything because he just loved getting along with people,” said Harris. “I just want everybody to remember him, remember the happy memories of Deondrick. [To] remember how humble he was, how loving he was, and just how silly he was because when he walked in the room with people he always lit the room up with his personality and his character.”