St. Charles Herald-Guide

Report: Deputy killed in Luling crash was traveling 90 mph, activated emergency lights right before impact

By Kyle Barnett - January 17, 2014

A St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s deputy who was killed in a wreck on Paul Maillard last year was traveling 90 miles per hour at the time of impact, not wearing his seat belt and did not have his emergency lights or sirens activated until .88 seconds before the crash, according to a report obtained from the Louisiana State Police through a public information request by The St. Charles Herald-Guide.

According to the traffic incident report, on the evening of Aug. 4, 2013 deputy Jeff Watson was traveling an estimated 90 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone on Paul Maillard Road  in Luling when he struck Dallas Veillon’s truck in the rear as it was making a left onto Post Street.

Watson’s car then careened into oncoming traffic and crashed head on into an SUV driven by Arthur Tregre. Tregre’s vehicle was pushed backwards 33 feet before coming to a stop.

Watson was fatally injured in the accident and Tregre suffered critical injuries including a broken leg, ankle, sternum and pelvis as well as a bruised lung and severe blood loss. Veillon, and a motorcyclist who jumped off his bike to avoid the accident, suffered minor injuries.

To determine that Watson’s emergency lights weren’t activated until less than a second before the crash, investigators used video footage of the incident taken from a security camera at Beck’s Automotive.

Due to the impact from Watson’s cruiser, the rear axle of Veillon’s truck was detached from the vehicle and traveled 115 feet before hitting two cars parked at Beck’s Automotive.

The report found Watson broke laws prohibiting emergency vehicles from endangering others by traveling at an excessive speed. He was also cited for reckless driving, negligent injury and not wearing a seat belt.

Although Veillon had a blood alcohol level of 0.1 at the time of the accident, which is over the legal limit of 0.08, the State Police report did not find the alcohol in his system to be a factor in the crash. A grand jury that convened at the St. Charles Parish Courthouse on Jan. 6 found the evidence to go ahead with charges of DWI against Veillon, but declined to indict him for vehicular manslaughter in Watson’s death.

After the accident, Tregre was hospitalized with severe injuries for an extended period of time and is currently in a local nursing home awaiting a hip implant due to trauma related to the accident.

A lawsuit filed against the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office by Tregre claims Watson is not believed to have been responding to an emergency call and that only moments before the collision he was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour. However, the State Police report says St. Charles Parish Communications Division radio logs indicate Watson was responding to a call for assistance from a fellow deputy at the time of the accident.

“Deputy Watson was responding to a call for assistance of another officer who was on a scene in Killona where a large crowd was involved in a disturbance,” Capt. Pat Yoes, spokesman with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Jeff Watson
Deputy Jeff Watson