Three pedestrians, including pastor, killed by impaired driver in Jefferson Parish, police say

Pastor Claude Williams was one of the people killed Sunday night on the Westbank Expressway. (Source: Celebration Church)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A suspected impaired driver struck three pedestrians Sunday night (June 16) on the Westbank Expressway, according to Louisiana State Police.

The crash happened around 10:30 p.m. on the upper level of US Hwy 90B at MacArthur Avenue.

The crash claimed the lives 49-year-old Claude Williams Jr. of Gretna, 49-year-old William Leinart of Gretna, and 66-year-old Ivan Chopin of Marrero.

Williams was a pastor at Celebration Church on the Westbank. A prayer group held vigil for him Monday morning. Williams is survived by three children and his wife of 13 years.

Troopers arrested 40-year-old Todd Williams of New Orleans.

The preliminary investigation revealed that Claude Williams was driving a 2003 GMC Yukon eastbound on US Hwy 90B and was involved in a single vehicle crash causing his vehicle to become disabled in the roadway. Leinart and Chopin were in the roadway assisting Williams with the disabled vehicle. Shortly after that initial crash, Todd Williams was traveling eastbound on US Hwy 90B in a 2015 Chevrolet Impala.

For reasons still under investigation, the Impala struck the disabled Yukon and the pedestrians, ultimately pushing them over the side of the elevated expressway. Two other vehicles were struck as a result of the crash.

Claude Williams, Leinart, and Chopin were all pronounced deceased on scene by the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office. Impairment is suspected on the part of Todd Williams, and a toxicology sample was obtained for analysis.

He was unrestrained, and was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. Williams was arrested and booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center for Vehicular Homicide (3 counts), Vehicular Negligent Injuring (3 counts), Careless Operation, No Seat Belt, and Switched License Plate. This crash remains under investigation.

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