PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - A crash involving five vehicles, including two 18-wheelers that caught fire, left one person dead and parts of I-10 closed for several hours.
Louisiana State Police reported Ronald Allen, 26, of Alexandria, died in the wreck. Troopers said the four other people involved in the crash suffered minor to moderate injuries.
The crash happened on I-10 East near LA 415 in Port Allen around 5:30 p.m.
Senior Tpr. Bryan Lee with LSP said the investigation up to this point shows vehicles were slowing down on I-10 due to heavy congestion. He added Harvey Harris, 48, of Sheridan, Arkansas, who was driving a big rig, did not slow down enough and rear-ended a 2006 GMC Sierra driven by Gerald Theriot, 70, of Chino Hills, California.
According to Lee, Theriot's pickup went off I-10 after getting hit and the tractor-trailer then rear-ended Allen's 2004 Chevrolet Impala and pushed it into the back of an 18-wheeler driven by David Short Jr., 71, of Rural Retreat, Virginia. Lee stated Allen's car was crushed between the two semi-trailers and burst into flames, setting all three vehicles on fire.
Lee added the impact from the 18-wheeler hitting Theriot's GMC truck pushed it into a 2004 Ford F-250 driven by Maykoll Cabrera, 18, of Tampa, Florida.
Allen was pronounced dead at the scene by the West Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office, according to troopers.
Officials said impairment is not suspected in the wreck, but as with all deadly crashes on Louisiana highways, blood samples were taken from all drivers and sent to a lab for analysis.
They added the crash is still being investigated and charges are pending.
I-10 was shut down in both directions for several hours while crews worked to extinguish the fire and clear the wreckage. All lanes were reported open around 11:30 p.m., but it took nearly another hour-and-a-half before all of the backups cleared. Crews later blocked the right lane for a few more hours to clean up debris from the side of the interstate. All lanes were reopened around 7:30 a.m.
Among the hundreds of people stranded on the interstate was a group of students from Sam Houston High School in Lake Charles. Officials said 160 band students were stuck on three buses for more than five hours. The students are headed to Disney World in Florida to perform at the Magic Kingdom. They did their best to pass the time.
"We understand what happened, but you're with a group of high school kids, so you can imagine how that is on a bus," said Terry Gould, the school's band director. "Just watching TV, talking, playing cards, whatever we're having to do. We're just hungry."
Officials held a brief news conference Wednesday evening with details up to that point. You can watch it below:
A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away.
One viewer submitted a video of the fire. It can be seen below:
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