Hit-and-run fatalities rising dramatically in New Orleans

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 10:42 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans police are looking for two hit-and-run drivers who killed female pedestrians in the past two days.

The incidents on back-to-back nights were only the latest examples of a crime -- hit-and-run resulting in death -- that seen a dramatic increase in 2022, with more than double the number of cases through the same date last year.

A 39-year-old woman in a wheelchair was the latest victim, struck from behind by a white Honda Accord on the dark I-10 Service Road near Crowder Boulevard just before 6 p.m. Monday. The woman died at the scene, while a 43-year-old man pushing her also was struck but survived with what the NOPD described as minor injuries.

Police released a photo of the car believed to have struck the couple, though its license plate was not disclosed. Police said the car likely has damage to its right side, and a damaged or missing side window.

She was the second woman killed by a hit-and-run driver in New Orleans since a few minutes after midnight Sunday morning. That’s when police say a 33-year-old woman tripped coming off the median and fell into Canal Street near South Liberty, and was struck by another light-colored sedan.

“I think it’s horrible that it happened,” said a man named Alex, who works at a business near that intersection.

The NOPD said Sunday’s victim was hit by a light-colored BMW and died from her injuries at a hospital.

“Hearing that there’s been an increase in driving fatalities, as far as hitting pedestrians, is disheartening,” Alex said. “We all went to driving school. We took the test.”

The women are at least the 13th and 14th people killed this year by hit-and-run drivers in New Orleans, according to statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

By the same date in 2019, the city saw only one hit-and-run death, and in 2020 there were four. Last year through this date, there were seven hit-and-run fatalities in the city. This year, that total has doubled.

There also have been at least two recent incidents in which pedestrians were killed when multiple drivers hit them and did not stop. A woman died under such circumstances at the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Crowder Boulevard on Oct. 16, and a man died in that manner at the intersection of Chef Menteur and Bundy Road on Sept 30.

“What’s going on now?” Alex wondered. “Maybe people just, one they don’t care or two, they’re afraid.

“They don’t know what the consequences are going to be behind something like that taking place. Maybe they haven’t been taught, you know, the right way to handle certain situations, conflict resolution. What do I do when I get to certain situations? People are driving faster. We may have more cars on the road now and there’s a lot of rideshare applications online now. But something still needs to take place and we still need to get our arms wrapped around what’s really going on here.”

Louisiana law says drivers who strike someone have a legal obligation to stop and “render reasonable assistance” to anyone who needs it. If the victim dies or suffers a serious injury, leaving the scene becomes a felony offense. Hitting an unoccupied parked vehicle and then fleeing the scene is a misdemeanor, though charges in both instances escalate if the driver is impaired or has prior convictions.

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