Deputies disciplined for mishandling DWI crash investigation
UPDATE 03/02/18: Sheriff Bud Torres has suspended three deputies after conducting an investigation into how the group handled a vehicle crash on the night of Mardi Gras.
Two people were hurt in the wreck. Two sergeants and a deputy were suspended without pay for their actions. The sheriff's office said the group allowed a driver who was believed to be under the influence to leave a local hospital without being tested. Investigators learned the hospital had blood drawn from the driver. A warrant was issued for a sample of the blood which was turned over to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
It appears the sample was found to have enough evidence to arrest the driver. The driver, Aaron Barlow, 25 of Maringouin, has been arrested and charged with careless operation, DWI 1St , negligent injuring, and driving with a suspended license.
POINTE COUPEE PARISH - For one couple, the always busy Highway 190 was even more dangerous on Mardi Gras.
“We saw pick-up truck headlights,” said Ashley Domingue. “My husband tried stepping on the gas so that we could give a cushion and hoping that he would get over, and he didn't. He hit us."
Although they made it out with only minor injuries, their car was badly damaged, and she says the driver that rear-ended them admitted he had been drinking.
“He asked me if I was the person he hit. I said yes. I asked if he was drunk, and he told me 'I had about eight beers,’” she recalled from their encounter at the hospital following the crash.
Unfortunately, the Pointe Coupee sheriff's deputy did not collect any evidence of that, because the alleged drunk driver was allowed to leave the hospital with no blood-alcohol test.
Domingue has grown frustrated with the situation.
"State law is state law, and if they didn't get the samples that they needed. Then, it's not likely it'll hold up in court.”
According to Pointe Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres, the crash is his department's responsibility, and he admits it was not properly handled.
“We're conducting our own investigation administratively in our own department to see just where that breakdown occurred and who's responsible for it,” said Torres.
After obtaining a signed search warrant from a judge, Torres said they will be able to get the driver's blood work from the hospital but Domingue is not sure that will get the driver or help her case.
“There's not much they can do to this guy now,” she said. “The evidence is gone, so unless the guy is going to openly admit in court that he was drinking and he was drunk, and go that way. Nothing else is going to be done to him."