Bridge collision claims life of former HHS athlete

May 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

A former Hahnville High School student and star softball player, 18-year-old Jessica Cancienne, was killed when her 2008 Mazda Tribute ran into the back of a garbage truck on the Hale Boggs Bridge last week.

Cancienne, who was the daughter of Louis and Christy, graduated from Hahnville in 2009. She was named a Class 5A all-state selection in softball after hitting .425 her senior season. Cancienne was also named to the all-district team for four straight years. She led the Lady Tigers to an undefeated district record in 2009 and helped her team pick up a 12-3 victory over Natchitoches-Central by going 4-for-5 in the first round of the playoffs.

After graduating from Hahnville, Cancienne went to Delgado Community College where she was studying for a career in speech pathology.

“All of us in the Hahnville softball world are staggered by this,” Hahnville head softball coach Kenny Vial said. “Jessica was an extremely talented kid. She played four positions in four years and was all-district at all four.
“It was always a pleasure to write ‘No. 9 Cancienne’ on my lineup card.”

Vial said that Cancienne’s cheerful demeanor, which is something that numerous classmates have made reference to, always set him at ease.

“She was a sweet kid with a great smile,” he said. “When she would smile during the games, I knew we would be alright.”

Cancienne’s accident was the third such one on the bridge in less than two years. Last July, 38-year-old Luling resident Misty Carroll was traveling northbound on I-310 when she ran into a garbage truck that had run out of fuel near the top of the Hale Boggs. Carroll was killed as a result of the accident, and a 6-year-old passenger was injured.

In almost the same spot six months earlier, Luling resident Craig Perrier Jr., 30, was heading to work at 5:30 a.m. when he ran into the back of a garbage truck that he said was traveling between 35 and 40 miles per hour. Perrier’s vehicle was going 70 miles per hour.

“I didn’t see the garbage truck until it was too late because it was going slow and it didn’t seem to be lit properly,” Perrier said. “I rammed into the back of the truck, then hit the middle barrier and the outside barrier.”

As a result of the crash, Perrier fractured his tibial plateau and broke his shoulder.

“I am still dealing with the effects of the crash everyday,” Perrier said. “I walk with a limp now and the best outlook is that I will get 75 percent of the use of my right leg back.

“Now, half of my knee is metal.”

And while Perrier’s injuries were severe, he knows that he is lucky to be alive - especially considering the state of his Ford F-150, which was crushed like a can by the force of the collision.

“My truck was destroyed,” he said. “I can’t believe that I made it out of there”

In all three of the wrecks, speed differential played a  part. Both Perrier and Carroll hit garbage trucks that were going slower than the speed limit when they collided. Speed is also suspected to be a factor in Cancienne’s wreck.
Sheriff Greg Champagne said that he has written to the state in the past asking the Department of Transportation and Development to lower the speed limit on the Hale Boggs Bridge to 60 miles per hour.

“I think 70 miles per hour is way too fast, especially considering that I-310 north of the bridge is 60 miles per hour,” he said. “There have been many accidents on the bridge due to various causes, one of which is high winds that surprise some drivers as they cross the crown.

“Also, the merge lanes present a danger on each side as slow traffic coming up the lanes merges with the faster traffic coming through.”

Champagne said that he did not feel comfortable talking about the most recent wreck because the Louisiana State Police handled the case.

“I do still believe that the speed limit on the bridge needs to be reduced in general. I find DOTD to be an incredibly slow moving bureaucracy,” he said. “I called over a week ago for the district engineer and can’t even get a call back. That was before the most recent accident.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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