“We won’t take it anymore. How many more people have to pass away for things to change?”
Caitlin Higgins Comardelle speaks passionately about the recent uptick of local drunk driving accidents, and for good reason.
“On July 4, 2020, a drunk driver collided their boat into our family’s boat,” she said. “All six people in our boat were injured. My sister Audrey passed away a few days later due to the injuries sustained in the boat crash – as a victim of vehicular homicide and a victim of drinking and driving.”
Comardelle and her husband Blake were also involved in the accident, and Comardelle said their lives were changed in an instant because of someone else’s choice to drink and drive.
The November car crash that claimed the lives of Hahnville High School class of 2021 graduates Michaila Bowling, Hali Coss and Lily Dufrene – in which the driver of the other car was arrested for impaired driving – has been an emotional volcano for those who loved and lost Audrey.
“It definitely brings it all back up,” Comardelle said. “It makes us all cry. Its definitely hard to go through, and unfortunately we know exactly what (those families) are going through. It feels like, ‘What is going on in St. Charles Parish? With the justice system? Why does this continue to happen?’”
Comardelle and her family have created the Facebook page titled “Justice for Audrey Maria Higgins” with the goal of spreading awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. The page also serves as a place to update people on the status of the case against Kevin Comardelle – the 22-year-old man accused of causing Audrey’s death. He is charged with four felony counts and two misdemeanor counts related to the case. He had a previous DWI charge at the time of the accident.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness in the community and a big thing we want to make sure that justice is served,” Comardelle said. “Blake and I have been speaking at the St. Charles Parish Driving Academy about the accident. A piece of me felt like we were reaching these young individuals, but not the majority of our community. We wanted to make sure to use the Facebook platform to reach everyone in the community and keep everyone informed.”
Comardelle has been drumming up support recently on the Facebook page for the upcoming pre-trial hearing in the case. Slated for Jan. 19 at 10:30 a.m., Comardelle said the purpose of the hearing is to get the case on track for a trial after previous attempts at a plea agreement were not successful.
“Nothing that will happen will bring Audrey back,” she said. “Nothing can be worth what her life was worth. But we’re trying to reach out and see the culture of drinking and driving change. The way a DUI is handled is more like a slap on the wrist. That’s unfortunate because someone can have multiple DUIs and not face treatment and not face true consequences.”
Comardelle has encouraged as many people as possible to attend the pre-trial hearing.
“I feel like there is strength in numbers with that,” she said.