An out-of-control bus driven by an illegal immigrant carrying flood recovery volunteers hit a fire truck and firefighters who had responded to an earlier crash Sunday morning on a Louisiana interstate, killing two people and injuring 36, according to state police.
The ladder truck from St. John the Baptist Parish, located west of New Orleans, had parked across the right lane of Interstate 10 to block traffic while police investigated an earlier crash involving a pickup truck that had skidded on the wet road, crashing into both guardrails about 6:40 a.m., Trooper Melissa Matey told local media.
The bus hit the fire truck, then hit a car, and then veered behind the fire truck and into the pickup truck, knocking three firefighters who were standing near the guard rail into the water below, Matey said.
Matey said the driver, identified as Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, 37, of Honduras, was an employee of that company.
"He is in this country illegally from Honduras. He has no driver's license. He had minor injuries," she said.
Rodriguez will be booked in the St. John the Baptist jail and will be charged with two counts of negligent homicide, reckless operation, and no driver's license, Fox 8 reported. Police told the television station that additional charges are forthcoming.
Matey said the wreck killed Jermaine Starr, 21, of Moss Point, Mississippi, a back-seat passenger in the Camry, and St. John the Baptist Parish district Fire Chief Spencer Chauvin. The injured included the other two firefighters, the bus driver, 24 bus passengers and a total of nine people in the car and pickups.
Firefighter Nicholas Saale, 32, of Ponchatoula, and Camry passenger Vontravous Kelly of Moss Point, Mississippi, are in critical condition, she said. The Camry's other two occupants, driver Marcus Tate, 35, and David Jones, both of Moss Point, are in serious condition.
Other injuries — including the Titan's two occupants, who suffered minor injuries in the original crash — ranged from minor to moderate, Matey said.
Matey said the bus was taking flood recovery workers from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and belonged to a company with two names: AM Party Bus and Kristina's Transportation LLC, both at the same address in Jefferson, about 30 miles from New Orleans in Jefferson Parish, Matey said.
No listing in Jefferson was available. A call by the Associated Press to Kristina's Transportation in Destrehan, 12 miles from Jefferson in St. Charles Parish, was not answered Sunday. A woman who answered the phone at AM Party Bus of New Orleans told the AP was only authorized to take booking calls.
“This is a very sad day for all first responders in Louisiana,” Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent said in a statement obtained by Fox 8. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the St. John the Baptist Fire Department. Louisiana has the “Move Over” law in place to protect our first responders on our roadways. Please adhere to this law and slow down when approaching emergency vehicles and disabled vehicles on the road.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.