OUACHITA, La. (KNOE 8 News & LSP) - A one-year-old child is dead following a hit and run accident on Highway 139 Thursday evening in Ouachita Parish. The driver who fled the scene originally claimed he was a robbery victim and that someone had stolen his truck.
On March 10, 2016 at 7:53 p.m., Troop F Troopers responded to a report of a two vehicle crash on Louisiana Highway 139 in Ouachita Parish. Upon arrival, Troopers discovered that the driver of one of the vehicles could not be located and that a small child had sustained serious injuries.
The preliminary investigation revealed that a 1994 Ford Ranger operated by 23-year-old Justin Sikes of Monroe, was traveling south on LA 139 in the inside lane when it struck the rear of a 2000 Honda Civic operated by 27-year-old Jamie Lenard of Epps, that was stopped preparing to turn left into a business drive. Sikes fled the scene without being identified.
Lenard and her front seat passenger were properly restrained at the time of the crash and sustained minor injuries. A one year old child was improperly restrained in the back seat and sustained serious injuries in the crash. The child was transported from the scene by ambulance to St Francis hospital where he later died. The toddler was not in a child restraint and was fastened in the vehicle with an adult seat belt.
After Sikes fled the scene, he attempted to report to authorities that he was the victim of a robbery and someone had stolen his truck. It was at that time that with the assistance of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, Troopers were able to detain him for an interview and Sikes ultimately confessed to driving the truck and fabricating the robbery to cover up his involvement in the crash.
Sikes was booked for vehicular homicide, 2 counts of vehicular negligent injury, hit and run, careless operation, and driving under suspension from a previous DWI.
During the past 30 years, approximately 8,959 lives have been saved by the use of child restraints according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is important that caregivers ensure children are properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt anytime they are traveling in a vehicle. This crash serves as yet another tragic reminder of how important the decision to properly restrain your child can be.