According to a Louisiana State Police (LSP) Troop D media release, on Tuesday, July 16, shortly after 6:30 pm, troopers responded to a three-vehicle fatal crash involving an 18-wheeler on Interstate 10, just west of Vinton. Unfortunately, the crash claimed the life of a Dequincy man.

A 2013 Freightliner 18-wheeler driven by 34-year-old Justin Anthony Chong of Asheville, North Carolina was traveling east on I-10. For unknown reasons, the 18-wheeler ran off the left side of the roadway, crossed the center median, and struck a 2009 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Zachary N. Flessner of Damon, Texas and a 2011 Chevrolet SUV driven by Stephen Duane Bertram, 54, that was both traveling west on I-10.

Sadly, Bertram, who was properly restrained, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, said Troop D.

Flessner was properly restrained, but sustained moderate injuries and was taken to a Beaumont area hospital. Chong and his 3-year-old and 8-year-old juvenile passengers were properly restrained and were taken to a Lake Charles area hospital with minor injuries.

Toxicology samples were obtained to be submitted for analysis. Charges against Chong are pending as the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Inattentive/distracted driving continues to be a leading factor in fatal crashes in our state. More information on distracted driving may be found online at www.distraction.gov.

This is the 18th fatal crash this year, resulting in 21 deaths.