Preliminary investigation revealed that a 2006 Nissan Maxima operated by Linda D. Beard (W/F 26) of Foxworth, MS was southbound on La. 21 with Lavonne Beard. A 2013 Chevrolet Malibu operated by Joan K. Ezell (W/F 55) was northbound on La. 21 with Robby Burke (W/M 48). Beard, for reasons under investigation, veered to the left causing the Maxima to cross the center line and hit the Malibu head-on.
The 4 year old child was improperly restrained in a booster seat by the lap belt only and received fatal injuries. The Washington Parish Coroner’s Office pronounced the Lavonne Beard dead at the scene. Linda Beard received serious injuries and was transported to the Interim LSU Hospital LEVEL 1 Trauma Center in New Orleans. Joan Ezell and Robby Burke also received serious injuries; both were transported to Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Mandeville.
All the adult occupants were properly restrained. It is unknown if alcohol is a factor; however, blood samples were taken from Beard and Ezell and will be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for toxicological analysis. Linda Beard has initially been charged with two counts of Negligent Injuring and further charges are possible. The Investigation is ongoing.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children to be in a 5-point harness for as long as the child’s weight is within the range of the seat. A 5-point harness car seat is the best way to keep your child the safest in the event of a crash by aligning the harness in the center of the sternum area. This secures the child in place by covering the largest part of the body rather than soft tissue around the belly.
If a child's weight is too much for the car seat; a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt is the next best option. The shoulder and lap belts are designed to keep the occupant secured in place. The booster seat works in tandem with the shoulder and lap belts. When properly secured they protect the body’s organs and soft tissue by crossing the hip bone, the sternum area, and shoulder bone along the largest area of the body. The lap belt alone allows the body above the waist to travel towards the impact in a crash. By being properly restrained a child's chances of receiving soft tissue, brain, or spinal cord injuries are greatly reduced.
Every occupant in a motor vehicle is required by Louisiana law to be properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. 96% of child restraints are installed improperly. Every Louisiana State Police Troop is a grant funded fitting station staffed by nationally certified child safety seat technicians. Each fitting station teaches parents/caregivers how to properly install the child restraint and how to properly buckle the child in the restraint. This service is FREE to the public. Please visit www.LSP.org to find out when your local LSP troop conducts child seat checks. LSP Troop L conducts child seat checks every Wednesday, from 3p-6p at Troop L in Mandeville, LA. No appointment is necessary. Please stop by and see us, you will gain invaluable information that will protect your child in the event you are in a motor vehicle crash.