VERNON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A driver involved in a fatal accident in Vernon Parish in May has been cleared of fault, according to a news release by state police.
Sherell L. Lewis Jr., 31, was killed when he was struck by a 2003 Chevrolet pickup driven by Hineston man Matthew M. Martin, who was 18 at the time of the crash. Lewis had stopped his vehicle on the side of the southbound lanes of US 171, north of Pickering, to remove debris from the road.
The incident drew national attention because of racist comments on social media allegedly made Martin after the crash. Screenshots of the comments were posted on social media and widely shared.
Vernon Sheriff Sam Craft denounced the posts but said they did not violate criminal law.
Master Trooper Scott Moreau released the findings of the state police investigation into the accident:
After a very thorough and comprehensive investigation into the crash that killed Sherell L. Lewis Jr. on May 29, 2018, the following information has been obtained through numerous investigative techniques:
- Martin was operating his vehicle at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, prior to the crash, and decreased his speed as he approached Lewis Jr.’s location in the roadway.
- As Martin was nearing the scene, he switched his vehicle from the right lane to the left lane. As Lewis Jr. entered the right lane, he altered his direction of travel and began walking back towards the grass median. This action placed him in the direct path of the 2003 Chevrolet pickup.
- Injuries Lewis Jr. sustained and the front bumper damage to the Chevrolet helped to confirm the direction Lewis Jr. was walking when the collision occurred.
- Martin’s cell phone was examined by Louisiana State Police Forensics Investigators. It was concluded that he was not on his phone during the crash.