Irvian Singleton Jr., 44, was pronounced dead by the St. Mary Parish coroner, according to Tfc. Stephen Hammons of the Louisiana State Police.
Singleton was driving a white 1995 Mercedes Benz and was unrestrained, according to Hammons.
Sheriff Mark Hebert said at about 4 p.m., St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents were conducting an investigation into illegal drug activity in Morgan City when they noticed Singleton’s vehicle commit a traffic violation. When the agents attempted to conduct a stop, Singleton then sped away, Hebert stated.
The sheriff did not release the charges for which Singleton was being investigated.
The vehicle that Singleton struck was a 2009 Nissan Altima driven by Ronshawna Ruffin, 27, of Vinton, who had turned onto Railroad Avenue from Oak Street. She was transported to Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City where she remains in stable condition.
Hammons said that “charges are pending the outcome of the investigation” and does not yet know if Ruffin will be issued a citation.
Morgan City Police Department Assistant Chief Glenn Blanco said that the sheriff’s department notified his department of the chase and that one of his vehicles was assisting the sheriff’s deputies in pursuit by the time it crossed Myrtle Street shortly before the wreck.
“It’s tragic. Like any other agency, we help any way we can,” Blanco said.
Morris Price, chief of the Morgan City Fire Department, said that his crews worked the scene until 11:30 p.m. cleaning up the wreckage.
His firefighters responded at 4:18 p.m. with three trucks, eight on-duty personnel, six off-duty personnel and three volunteers, Price said.
Some witnesses at the scene of the accident, including District 3 city councilman the Rev. Ron Bias, asked why law enforcement officers would conduct a high-speed chase through a residential area where many pedestrians walk.
Mayor Tim Matte said, “I share everyone’s concern about anyone who would be driving through our city at a high rate of speed anywhere in our city, especially in a residential area,” he said.
“We don’t decide where the suspect’s going to drive. The police agencies have to respond. It obviously put people in danger, without a doubt. Now, did he put people in danger because he was being chased, or did he put people in danger because he was up to no good. I don’t know,” Matte said.
The sheriff’s department would not yet comment on a policy for chasing suspects.