One person was killed Saturday in a traffic accident in south Lake Charles involving a motorcycle, and a Lake Charles woman faces charges related to the crash. Louisiana State Police said it happened at 5:21 p.m. on Gulf Hwy in front of Lake Charles Regional Airport.
Troopers said Jerel Wayne Gutgsell, 24, of Lake Charles was northbound on a 2004 Yamaha motorcycle when the driver of a southbound 2010 Ford Edge turned left in front of him.
Gutgsell was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Ford Edge, Catherine Hodges, 57, of Lake Charles was not injured.
Troopers believe Hodges may have been impaired when the accident happened. Hodges was booked into the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center on charges of vehicular homicide, DWI 1st offense, and failure to yield while turning.
The accident remains under investigation.
The following is a news release from Louisiana State Police:
Impairment suspected in fatal motorcycle crash in Calcasieu Parish
On May 12, 2012, at 5:21 p.m., troopers assigned to Louisiana State Police Troop D responded to a two vehicle crash involving a motorcycle on Louisiana Highway 385 (Gulf Highway) in front of the Lake Charles Regional Airport that claimed the life of a Lake Charles man.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a 2004 Yamaha motorcycle operated by 24-year-old Jerel Wayne Gutgsell of Lake Charles was traveling north on LA 385 when a southbound 2010 Ford Edge driven by 57-year-old Catherine Hodges of Lake Charles made a left turn in front of the motorcycle Gutgsell was driving causing the vehicles to collide.
Gutgsell was pronounced dead at the scene by the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office. Hodges, who was wearing a seat belt, was not injured.
Impairment on the part of Hodges is suspected to be a factor in the crash. Hodges was arrested and booked into the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center for vehicular homicide, DWI 1st offense, and failure to yield while turning.
Toxicology samples were obtained from both drivers and will be submitted for analysis. The crash remains under investigation.
Last year, Louisiana State Police Troop D investigated 18 fatal crashes resulting in 20 fatalities. An impaired driver was responsible for half of the deaths in those crashes. Motorists should never get behind the wheel if they are impaired and should either stay where they are or call someone who is sober to pick them up.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative aimed at getting motorists and motorcyclists to "share the road" with each other.
Motorcycle awareness license plates are available through the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. Please visit their website at www.expresslane.org for more information. Funds generated from the purchase of the plates will be used by the Motorcycle Awareness Campaign to increase awareness and promote/support training and education efforts for motorcyclists.
This is the fourth motorcyclist to die in a crash investigated by Troop D this year.