Man sentenced for fatal Des Allemands boat crash

Audrey Higgins (pictured in the middle) was killed after a boat she was riding in was struck by another boat. All six of the passengers on Higgins’ boat were injured.

Kevin Comardelle, who in October pleaded guilty to crimes related to a 2020 Des Allemands boat crash that killed 36-year-old Audrey Higgins and left five others injured, was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday in Luling.

The Baton Rouge man, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and four counts of first degree negligent injuring related to the night, in which Comardelle was operating  his boat while intoxicated. The full sentence handed down by Judge Timothy Marcel was 20 years, but 12 years of that is suspended. He has been fined $2,000 and must pay restitution to the victims. He will also be on probation  for  five years following his release.

“Our office worked diligently to obtain the defendant’s plea of guilty to all charges,” said First Assistant District Attorney Juan A. Byrd. “It is my sincere hope that the guilty plea and sentence imposed today will provide the family of Audrey Higgins, as well as the surviving victims and their families, the necessary closure that they will undoubtedly need to begin the healing process.”

On the night of the accident, Comardelle’s boat collided with the boat of Higgins and her family on 9:29 p.m. Higgins died on July 7, 2020 as result of her injuries.

Marcel said the sentence is aimed at addressing the “grievous harm” caused to direct and indirect victims of Comardelle’s actions on that night – including Blake Comardelle, Caitlin Comardelle, Braxden Tregre, Dakota Tregre, Brock Tregre, each of whom suffered serious injuries on that night.

“Survivors possess physical and mental scarring that will be daily reminders of what was taken from them that night,” Marcel said. “Kevin Comardelle’s life was forever changed as well. On  that night he lost his right to self-determination.”

But Marcel also noted Comardelle’s contrition since the accident and that 19 people wrote letters on his behalf.

“Based on information known to the Court, he has been  an otherwise contributing member of society … elimination of alcohol from his life significantly mitigates Kevin Comardelle’s risk to the public,”  Marcel said.

Higgins was killed a day after her 36th birthday, the same age as her maternal grandmother at the time of her death. Higgins ‘grandmother was also killed by a drunk driver.

“For the second time in three generations,  one family in our community experienced  the death of a member due to a drunk driver,” Marcel said.

Kevin Comardelle was previously charged with a DWI for an incident prior to the accident, and those offering victim impact statements on behalf of Higgins in October said they believe Comardelle made a decision to drink and drive his boat on that fateful night, in the process damaging their lives forever.

Higgins’ family started the Facebook page “Justice for Audrey Maria Higgins” with the goal of spreading awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving while also updating on the case against Kevin Comardelle.

Blake Comardelle, married to Higgins’ sister Caitlin, suffered severe injuries in the accident, including a leg that was wounded to the point it was possible it would need to be amputated.

He took a deep breath before offering his thoughts following the verdict.

“We did everything that we could do,” he said. “We fought. We pushed the issue as much as we could. We kept fighting for justice. No sentence could ever have brought Audrey back. Are we happy with the sentence? We’ve  got to believe that the judge is making decisions he believes is best for everybody involved. So, there’s nothing more that we can do. We gave it our all.”

Caitlin Comardelle thanked the supporters of their cause on the Justice for Audrey Facebook page and echoed her husband’s sentiment.

Braxden Tregre also offered his thoughts on the page, likewise thanking supporters of the cause but also expressing frustration that while Higgins lost her life, Kevin Comardelle could potentially serve less than half of  that eight year sentence.

“I hope to see a change in our court system for the next family who has to unfortunately deal with the horrible events that we all did,” he wrote.

Numerous supporters offered condolences and likewise some frustration over what they perceived to be a lenient sentence.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Justice was not served, at all. He committed a homicide, injuring others, and had NO remorse until he figured out that he was going to do some time. It wasn’t even his 1st offense. What he’s done to the families involved, both physically and mentally and financially, is something that can never be repaid back. And to give him a slap on the wrist, is so damn disrespectful to them and future families that will have to go through this, because what’s the worse thing someone gets, 2 years in jail

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