Man dies after fleeing from cops, crashing into house
HILLSDALE- Along a rural stretch of highway in St. Helena Parish, authorities stumbled upon a deadly wreck that was the aftermath of a police chase Tuesday.
A man who had managed to flee officers eventually crashed into a house, knocking it off its foundation. The driver was dead inside his mangled, small sedan.
"It really sounded like an explosion," a witness told WBRZ News 2 in an exclusive interview that was broadcast Tuesday night on WBRZ News 2 at 10:00.
"I mean, I heard it," the man said who asked not to be identified. "I knew it was something big."
State Police said late in the evening, what the man heard was the sound of Benjamin Zanders, 30, slamming into a house and splitting it in two.
The crash happened in Saint Helena Parish near the Tangipahoa Parish line at the intersection of Highways 1046 and 441 following a police chase that began in Amite. The chase was about eight miles long and involved numerous agencies.
The man who said he heard the wreck lives about a quarter-of-a-mile down the road from the crash. He said the impact shook his home and rattled the windows.
"I didn't realize it was a police chase, until after the fact," he said. "I just knew he was flying."
Pictures show the car was flattened on the driver's side. The man took pictures and even recorded video. He said Zanders, of Independence, was found with his feet pinned between the seat and the steering wheel, his upper body across the passenger's seat. Fire fighters used the jaws of life to free his body. He was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.
The man who witnessed the crash said no one has lived in the house that was hit for about a year, but the owner's possessions are still inside.
Troopers suspect impairment to be a factor in the crash; a toxicology report is pending.