Bus driver in deadly I-10 crash speaks from jail
NEW ORLEANS - Nearly two weeks after the tragic bus accident on I-10 in Laplace that left three people dead, the driver of the bus that crashed into a fire truck is speaking from jail.
Dennis Amaya Rodriguez remains in jail on charges including negligent homicide and driving without a license. Amaya had also entered the United States illegally.
However, the publisher of a Hispanic newspaper was able to talk to him by phone.
Jambalaya News Louisiana's Publisher Brenda Murphy was interviewing a Rodriguez family friend whose phone suddenly rang. Dennis Amaya Rodriguez, the bus driver in the I-10 crash in Laplace, was calling from jail.
"He gave me his version of the events of the accident," Murphy said.
Rodriguez agreed to be interviewed over the phone, in Spanish, telling Murphy about being in jail.
"He feels frustrated for the situation," Murphy said.
Ramon Vargas, a reporter for The Advocate, translated Rodriguez's statement: "And so in reality, I am being detained because I need an attorney to represent me. If I had one, I'd be out," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez described that Sunday morning: "They gave me the bus, they checked it for me, and they told me the bus was good," Vargas said, translating Rodriguez' words. "And the bus' brakes failed. There was an accident in front of me. And when I wanted to hit the brakes, nothing. It was raining, too."
In the interview, Rodriguez said he didn't want to make the trip, acknowledging not having a driver's license.
"I said I didn't want to drive because I don't have a license to drive here," Vargas translated the interview done in Spanish. "I was about 300 meters away when I looked for the brakes... And where are the brakes? And where are the brakes on the bus? And I wanted to see if there was a way to cross over. But where was I going to cross? All of the lanes were blocked. So I pointed the bus where it went. It was life or death, you know?"
"He wants for justice, because he admitted he do something wrong," Brenda Murphy concluded.
In total, Acadian Ambulance Services say 41 patients were transported from the scene. St. John the Baptist Fire Department District Chief Spencer Chauvin was transported to River Parishes Hospital where he was later prounced dead.