Despite crashes, tickets and a lawsuit, employee driving state vehicle keeps clean driving record
BATON ROUGE – A state corrections employee is facing discipline and the woman's bosses are trying to figure out a glitch in records after a series of wrecks involving state vehicles driven by the employee.
Despite having an accident free record, Chelsea Laurent, a probation and parole officer, has wrecked two state vehicles, received a speeding ticket while driving a state vehicle and is being sued for the wrecks where she was behind the wheel of a state-owned vehicle.
A person was injured in a June 2017 wreck involving Laurent in a state vehicle. A lawsuit was filed against the state in February alleging her negligence led to the crash.
Six months later, Laurent crashed another state vehicle. This time, records show she was going 89 in a 55-mile-per hour zone. The crash sent her to the hospital and Laurent was charged with negligent injuring. Laurent ultimately pleaded no contest to the speeding charge and the negligent injuring charge was dropped.
"It was not her fault," Laurent's attorney Cy D'Aquila said. "I know they cited her for speeding but regardless of the speed the accident would have still occurred because the driver pulled out in front of her."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit found the Department of Corrections disciplined Laurent for the first crash. Her punishment for the second crash is pending.
But, the WBRZ Investigative Unit learned that despite her two recent wrecks in a ten months span, Laurent's driving record showed she had no accidents.
"The only thing I can figure is they didn't write a report," Probation and Parole Director Pete Fremin said. "The police officer should have written a report, and it should be on her driving record."
The Office of Motor Vehicles said it shows no driving issues because files related to Laurent's incidents were never submitted.
"We need to get to the bottom of what the problem is and we need to solve it," Fremin said. "Ms. Laurent is a great agent but we can't put the public at risk so we will take the appropriate action."
The Department of Corrections said Laurent's driving privileges have temporarily been revoked.
Attorney Spencer Calahan is representing a crash victim involved in one of Laurent's wrecks. He released the following statement:
"We are aware that Ms. Laurent has a history of speeding ticket(s) in multiple parishes and has had at least two (at-fault) motor vehicle accidents in the last 12 months. Learning today that Ms. Laurent continues to have a 'clean' DPS Driving record that is void of accidents, tickets and convictions is alarming. Unfortunately, if this kind of oversight in reporting continues, Louisiana's drivers will have to share the road with others that are clearly better suited for public transportation."
The state will determine additional discipline for Laurent in ten days.