‘The speedometer broke at 125’
When the call came, Samuel Lauman was in disbelief – he had just lost his father and half-brother in a fiery two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 90 East in Waggaman.
“I really feel they lost control,” Lauman said of the June 12 accident. “It happened. A mistake led to them spiraling out of control. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but I don’t believe the last 10 seconds of their lives was in their control.”
It was what Lauman called his first brush with “instant tragic” and wept as he recounted losing so much in a single moment.
Nearly three months ago, his father Elroy Lauman, 54, and his half-brother Scott Garcie, 19, both of Luling, were killed instantly in a crash so devastating that the 2001 Porsche 911 Carrera that Garcie was driving smashed into a Penske box truck and killed the driver, Henry Aucoin, 40, of New Orleans.
Garcie driving at a “very high rate of speed” apparently lent to losing control of the Porsche, according to a State Police preliminary investigation. Both vehicles went up in flames.
“The speedometer broke at 125,” Lauman said.
While he concedes excessive speed played a role in the wreck becoming fatal, Lauman also believes broken suspension may have lent to the loss of control.
“My dad wasn’t an advocate for speeding and he was always safe about that,” he said. “This is weird because I can’t imagine my dad allowing Scott to drive that speed.”
The timing of the wreck was extremely heartbreaking for Lauman, who recounted how life seemed to be finally coming together for his father and was so promising for Garcie, who had just graduated from Hahnville High School. He was headed to college to become an engineer.
For his father, life had been challenging and it was good to see a change.
“He grew up in a poor neighborhood and often referred to having nothing growing up – and hated it,” Lauman said. “He wasn’t much for friends and just wanted to work hard and come home. He didn’t like to think too much and just wanted his own head space. He never cared about his reputation.”
He had a history of drinking problems, but his son remembered how he’d finally pulled himself out of it. He carried his pledge on his phone: “Work out. Get sleep. Find a way to better yourself.”
Life did get better for him.
“He was comfortable where he was in life,” Lauman said. “He was ready to go.”
He was working steady as a respiratory therapist, had a loving girlfriend and had just bought his dream car – a Porsche.He watched Craigslist five years before making the move. He’d also bought cars for his three children, including Lauman.
He enjoyed working on cars and particularly with his children, which Lauman himself also appreciated.
“My dad had this thing that any kid was one of his kids and he loved him,” Lauman said. “They had a relationship – they weren’t father and son, but my dad tried to be a father figure for him.”
Days before the wreck, Garcie had told his stepfather he wanted to drive the Porsche. That morning, Elroy Lauman told his girlfriend he loved her and was picking up Garcie and taking him out for ride.
Of Garcie, Lauman recalled how they kidded each other and talked about his “broken heart” over girl troubles.
“For the most part, he gave it his all,” he said. “He played soccer. He had that resilience. That was his thing – he gave it his all. He was a good kid. He never intentionally hurt anyone. He was mindful of what he did and how his actions affected others around him.”
There was also Aucoin’s death and Lauman expressed his condolences to the man’s family. He left behind a wife and children.
From the time he received the stunning news of their deaths, Lauman said he couldn’t help thinking about the loss of his father and stepbrother at a time in their lives when things were working out for them.
“By the time of the accident, my dad was taking the opportunity to spend time with someone,” Lauman said. “He cared about Scott and wanted the company. He wanted to be there simply because he cared about Scott. Scott wanted to drive the Porsche and my dad let him drive it.”