Five people were killed early Friday when a driver going the wrong way crashed into another vehicle on Interstate 10 outside New Orleans, closing the westbound lanes for nearly five hours, state police said.
Louisiana State Trooper Nick Manale said a driver in a Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-10 near LaPlace just before 3 a.m. and crashed head-on with another vehicle with four people inside. The car traveling the wrong way burst into flames. All five people died at the scene.
Manale said an 18-wheeler then sideswiped the wreck and another vehicle hit the 18-wheeler. The drivers of those vehicles suffered only minor injuries.
Trooper Evan Harrell identified the four people in the car as: Lawayne Rice, 30, of Zachary; Terrell Sims, 27, of Slaughter; Louis Brown Jr., 19, of Baton Rouge and Dondray London, 20, also of Baton Rouge.
Rice and Sims, who was in the front passenger seat, were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash; Brown and London, in the rear seats, were not properly restrained, Harrell said.
The Jeep's driver has not been positively identified. Harrell said investigators are awaiting the outcome of an autopsy before that information is released.
Manale said troopers had received reports of the wrong way driver just before the accident occurred. Harrell said investigators have not determined where the driver illegally entered the interstate.
LaPlace is about 25 miles west of New Orleans.