A 44-year-old man is accused of driving drunk and sideswiping a police car at a traffic stop in northeast Louisiana, killing one officer and injuring two others early Sunday, officials said.
The crash took place on Interstate 55 in Sterlington, about 220 miles northwest of New Orleans, as city police Officer David Elahi stood next to a patrol car, talking to a woman who had been stopped, Sterlington Police Chief Barry Bonner told the Associated Press
He said a pickup truck hit Elahi and took off the police car doors.
The other two officers had minor injuries, according to a state police spokesman.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Elahi's family and the Sterlington Police Department during this time of grief," said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson told KSLA-TV. "This is a tragedy that could have been avoided."
Bonner told the AP that Tracy Govan, 44, of Monroe, was arrested on charges including vehicular homicide and vehicular negligent injury — killing or injuring someone by driving while drunk. He did not know whether Govan has an attorney.
Bonner said the woman stopped for a traffic violation escaped injury. She was waiting in the patrol car's rear seat for a friend to come and drive her home, since police learned after she had been stopped that she was driving with a suspended license, Bonner said.
He said Elahi was in his late 20s, had worked for him about four years, and was engaged to the mother of his toddler-age daughter.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at North Monroe Baptist Church, Bonner said.
"David was probably the hardest-working individual I've ever met," Bonner said. He said Elahi had two part-time businesses — real estate and renting inflatable "bounce houses" — and had planned to go to part-time police work at the end of July so he could work full-time at real estate.
He was devoted to his daughter and to his parents, Bonner said.
"His father has some health issues, and David's always been there for him."
He said he can't remember ever seeing Elahi in a bad mood.
"He was a beautiful, beautiful young man."
This was the second incident in the past two days on Louisiana highways involving a law enforcement officer being struck, KSLA-TV reported.
A Louisiana State Trooper was struck on Interstate 55 on Friday and suffered injuries while directing traffic around a stalled vehicle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.