Nothing can change the tragedy that so harshly impacted her family in November of 2021. But for Holly Fonseca, there is some solace in the fact that her voice and several others have likely made a difference toward preventing others from suffering the same loss.
A $4.2 million project is ongoing for safety upgrades to the intersection of Hwy. 90 and Hwy. 182 in Raceland, and the aim is for that work to be completed by the end of the year.
On Thanksgiving night in 2021, Fonseca’s niece Michelle and her husband Dustin Moore were killed when their car traveling on Hwy. 90 collided with a car entering the intersection from Hwy. 182. Two others died in the crash as well. The Moores’ then 7-year-old son was also in their car, but survived the incident.
“You think about it every day. I think about her every day,” Fonseca said. “Just as I know our whole family does. Thanksgiving isn’t the same. It never will be. They left behind a 7-year-old son, he’s now 9, and he’s doing well considering everything. But he has his moments of course, and we all have our moments – we miss them.”
The St. Charles Parish councilwoman and Luling resident noted that the intersection has always been dangerous.
“I commuted to Nicholls for nine straight years,” Fonseca said. “It was dangerous then. It’s just a shame that it took this long and such a tragedy to get that focus on implementing a real solution that will hopefully save lives.”
Four people died in the crash that claimed her niece. Less than one year later, a fifth life was taken at the intersection when 19-year-old Alexis Crimiel was killed when her vehicle was struck by a large truck.
Fonseca said many voices contributed to spurring these safety measures along. She wrote a letter imploring the state to take measures to make the intersection safer as the St. Charles and Lafourche parish councils did the same and made resolutions to that goal. State Representative Bryan Fontenot and Lafourche Councilman Terry Arabie also got involved.
But Fonseca credited the largest and most effective push to WDSU investigative reporter Aubry Killion and his series on the intersection’s dangers.
“We really didn’t see momentum on that issue (until Killion’s efforts),” said Fonseca.
Scott Boyle, assistant district administrator of operations for the state’s DOTD, told Killion for a story published by WDSU last month that the project includes the addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes and a J-turn. Instead of motorists crossing fast-moving lanes of traffic to get to the opposing lanes, drivers at a J-turn intersection turn right in the same direction of traffic, merge into the left lane, and then make a U-turn in the direction they intend to travel.
While that intersection will always bring up difficult emotions within her, Fonseca said the knowledge that something is finally being done does help.
“None of us could control what happened,” Fonseca said. “It’s tragic. For me, it is somewhat therapeutic to be able to help institute some changes and safety improvements there and potentially save lives in the future.
“I’m just relieved that it’s happening, and hopefully the project will be finished by the end of the year. I pray no more injuries occur or lives are lost at that intersection. I don’t want anyone to go through what our family went through.”