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.