On Monday, September 18, 2023, shortly after 7:00 a.m., Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop F began investigating a single vehicle fatal crash on LA Hwy 133 near Bellview Lane. The crash claimed the lives of 60-year-old Melanie Gray of Columbia and 43-year-old Brinkley Thomas of Columbia.
The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2023 Hyundai Elantra, driven by Gray, was traveling north on LA Hwy 133. For reasons still under investigation, the Elantra exited the roadway and struck a tree.
Gray, who was unrestrained, was ejected from the Elantra and succumbed to her injuries at the scene. Thomas, who was also unrestrained, succumbed to his injuries in the crash. Although impairment is unknown, routine toxicology samples were collected and will be submitted for analysis. This crash remains under investigation.
While not all crashes are survivable, wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing people can do to minimize the risk of injury in the event of a crash. Louisiana state law requires all occupants to be properly restrained in every seating position, day and night. It only takes three seconds. Always wear your seat belt. Every trip. Every time.
In 2023, Troop F has investigated 26 fatal crashes, resulting in 30 deaths.