Velma Hendrix, 84, was the passenger of a car when a pick-up truck slammed into the vehicle on a highway near Melville at approximately 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Hendrix was not wearing a seat belt at the time and later succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital, said Louisiana State Police.
An initial investigation into the crash found that Michael Cook of Columbia, Louisiana, who drove the 2015 Ram pickup, was headed southbound on Highway 741, while the 2008 Acura RDX was headed westbound on Highway 190, police said in a news release. When the driver of the Acura approached the intersection, Cook failed to yield while crossing both westbound lanes of Highway 190, police said. Cook did not show signs of being intoxicated at the time, according to a breathalyzer test.
“Louisiana State Police would like to remind motorists to slow down and come to a complete stop in order to ensure no cross traffic is present and ALWAYS wear your seat belt, regardless of seating position,” police said. “Simple precautions such as these can often mean the difference between life and death.”
The other passengers in the car were all wearing seatbelts and were moderately to critically injured. They were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Cook was not wearing a seatbelt and was not injured in the accident, per police.
Hendrix had served as the town’s mayor since 2018 and was an active member of the community, according to CBS News.
“Melville is a place where people raise families, work hard, and know how to have fun,” Hendrix said on the town’s website. “I’ve always been proud of our town, and I’m especially proud to serve as the Mayor of such a wonderful place.”
With Hendrix’s death, the town’s mayoral election has been paused, and a qualifying period will be reopened for the mayor’s race on Monday.
If no one new enters the race, the results of Tuesday’s election minus the votes for Hendrix will stand, and the person with the highest votes will be the new mayor, according to CBS. If someone new does enter, a new election will be held on Dec. 10. It is unclear how many votes were cast for Hendrix.