The six-vehicle crash that claimed the life of Brent Petit of Luling ended a career where he represented the local United Steelworkers (USW) and headed the River Parishes Transit Authority (RPTA).
Of the many tributes made in Petit’s memory, fellow RPTA board member Richard Drexel described Petit as “a very kind and giving person.”
Evangeline Jackson-Martin, RPTA general manager, said they will celebrate Petit’s life and will miss him.
“You always heard of Brent,” said Parish Tax Assessor Tab Troxler who knew of him. “I know he will be missed.”
Petit, 59, was killed near the Diversion Canal on U.S. Highway 90 in Luling last Wednesday (Dec. 27) when 51-year old Reginal Haywood of Avondale was driving a 2008 GMC Sierra east on U.S. Highway 90, according to Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey.
A native and resident of Luling, Petit is survived by his wife, Franziska Lendle Petit and his sons Jacques Petit and Rene Petit.
Petit represented workers throughout the South as chairman of the Workers Committee and as vice president of the Local 447. He served as executive board member of the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO, Thibodeaux Central Labor Council, and Louisiana State AFL-CIO. He also served as the legislative representative for the PACE/USW District Council. He retired from Cornerstone after 33 years, and in April of 2016, became a staff representative for the United Steelworkers.
He also served as chairman of the board and was a founding member of the RPTA where he worked to bring public transportation to the River Parish communities.
Last Wednesday, Petit was pronounced dead on the scene of the accident.
For reasons still under investigation, Haywood lost control of his vehicle, crossed the grassy median and entered into the westbound lanes of the highway, according to Matey. The 2008 GMC Sierra was driving rotated across the westbound lanes and was struck by a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado driven by 53-year-old Craig Guidry of Gray.
The GMC Sierra was then struck by a 2016 Nissan Sentra driven by Petit.
After the initial impacts with the Chevrolet and Nissan, Guidry’s vehicle continued rotating and was struck by three additional vehicles traveling west on U.S. 90.
Of the drivers of the three vehicles, Laura Appleberry, 53, of Luling, was driving a 2015 Honda Civic and was transported to University Medical Center with minor injuries. Marisa Gwinn, 28, of Thibodaux, was driving a 2017 Toyota Corolla, suffered minor injuries. A third victim, Masimo Vasquez Jr., 51, of New Sarpy, was driving a 2002 GMC Sierra and was not injured.