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Livingston Parish chase led to wreck that killed two people on LA-16

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DENHAM SPRINGS - Two people died Monday afternoon after a crash that stemmed from a police chase by Livingston Parish sheriff's deputies. 

The sheriff's office said deputies were chasing a driver, 27-year-old Benjamin Fontenot, along LA-16 who had outstanding felony warrants.

Officials said Fontenot's truck hit another car along LA-16 near Sims Road. Two passengers in the truck, 25-year-old Cullen Pitre and 27-year-old Logan McDonald, died at the scene.

Fontenot and the occupants of the other vehicle were taken to a hospital.

Upon his release from the hospital, Fontenot will be booked with two counts of negligent homicide, two counts of negligent injuring, one count of aggravated flight, one count of resisting arrest, one count of theft of a vehicle, possession of schedule II, schedule I and legend drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, no tail lamp for license plate, driving under a suspension and not wearing a seat belt. 

The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office revealed the deadly crash was the result of a pursuit three hours after the wreck and after WBRZ first began asking for information about a chase ending in a wreck.

At first, the sheriff's office only suggested in a post on social media that the wreck killed two people and avoided providing information that it happened during a pursuit. Throughout the afternoon Monday, Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lori Steele ignored repeated attempts from WBRZ to obtain information about the chase.

Steele, through Sheriff Jason Ard, has overseen policy changes designed to cloud transparency at the department.

The crash days before Thanksgiving comes a month after a Livingston Parish deputy was issued a ticket for a deadly crash months earlier. In July, Christinia Estave was killed when Cory Winburn, the deputy, rear-ended Estave's vehicle on Range Avenue.

The sheriff's office spent weeks attempting to limit the WBRZ Investigative Unit from reporting on the crash.

Winburn was indicted by a grand jury and ticketed for careless operation amid WBRZ reports showing questions surrounding the July crash and the subsequent investigation.


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