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January 18, 2020

Impairment Suspected in Crash That Killed Two

Shortly before 10 PM Last night (January 17, 2020), Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop L
responded to a fatal crash involving several vehicles on I-12 westbound near US 11 in St. Tammany Parish. The crash has claimed the life of 77-year-old Grace Barthel of Mandeville and 55-year-old Ronald Destgermain of Mandeville.

The initial investigation led Troopers to determine that the crash occurred as a Dodge Durango, driven by 35-year-old Nicholas Romain of Lacombe, was traveling westbound on I-12   in the left lane and came to a stop in the left lane with Romain unresponsive in the driver’s seat. This resulted in a four vehicle rear-end crash involving a Toyota Tacoma, a Honda Accord driven by Barthel, and an Audi A6. Barthel along with her passenger, Destgermain, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased on the scene. The driver along with a passenger of the A6 received serious injuries and were transported to an area hospital. Romain and the driver of the Tacoma were not injured.

Impairment is suspected on the part of Romain. The driver of the Tacoma provided a breath sample that showed no evidence of alcohol. As part of the ongoing investigation, blood samples were collected from Romain, Barthel, and the driver of the A6 for scientific analysis. Seatbelt use remains under investigation. Romain was arrested and booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail on the charges of Vehicular Homicide, Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway of Commerce, Illegal Possession of Stolen Things, and Possession of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance.

The investigation is ongoing and no additional information is available at this time.

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