I-TEAM: Survivor of horrific high-speed crash calls for end to police chases

Marcella French still finds it hard to look at the photos of her wrecked Kia Soul.
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Marcella French still finds it hard to look at the photos of her wrecked Kia Soul. Seeing the smashed windshield and the mangled fender nearly brings her to tears, even six months later.

The photos also bring back French’s memory of the other driver she says blew through the Florida Boulevard and Central Thruway intersection in East Baton Rouge Parish, while allegedly attempting to escape from Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputies who were chasing him.

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In the last few months, East Baton Rouge Parish and the surrounding areas have seen a number of police chases. Some have even turned deadly, like one in January that claimed the lives of two Brusly teens.

“I mean nobody should have to go through this,” said French. “And people died and they should still be here. They need to stop it and stop it everywhere.”

Louisiana lawmakers have vowed to pitch laws that increase penalties for officers who put other drivers’ lives at risk when they participate in high-speed chases.

French supports those rules, especially after someone at the scene of her crash essentially thanked her for stopping the suspect, she said.

“One of the guys came and said, ‘I hope you’re okay,’ and said thank you for stopping our guy for us and that was about it,” recalled French.

The guy who smashed into French was taken to the hospital and was supposed to be booked for drug charges. It turns out the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office lost track of him at the hospital.

A sheriff’s office spokeswoman explained Keldrick White was “released without notification.” Deputies have been looking for White since he got out of the hospital, and they hope to make an arrest in the case.

French now questions the point of the high-speed chase that put her life in danger, especially if the suspect somehow slipped away from law enforcement. While her physical scars are still healing, she said her emotional pain will stay with her much longer.

“What was so important that they had to chase him into town? I think about it all the time, I guess, because there are questions and it’s kind of getting to me,” she said.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone who knows White’s whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867 or call LPSO.

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