One Driver Arrested on 6 Counts after Troopers Investigate Multi-Vehicle Fatal Crash

One Driver Arrested on 6 Counts after Troopers Investigate Multi-Vehicle Fatal Crash

Published January 18, 2020

From Louisiana State Police – On Friday, January 17, 2020, shortly before 10:00 PM, Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop L responded to a fatal crash involving several vehicles on Interstate 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, who was traveling westbound on Interstate 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 was 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 for the following charges: Two counts of L.R.S. 14:32.1 (Vehicular Homicide), Two counts of L.R.S. 14:39.1 (Vehicular Negligent Injuring), L.R.S. 14:96 (Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway of Commerce), and L.R.S. 40:966 (Possession of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance). The investigation is ongoing and no additional information is available at this time.

Louisiana State Troopers wish to remind motorists making good choices while in motor vehicles such as never driving while impaired, always ensuring every occupant is properly restrained, and avoiding all distractions can often mean the difference between life and death.

Contact Information:
Tpr. David Levy
Louisiana State Police
Public Affairs Section
Office: (985) 893-6250