The Louisiana State Police have investigated the May 29 death of a Leesville pedestrian.
“After a very thorough and comprehensive investigation into the crash that killed Sherell (“‘Rell”) L. Lewis, Jr. on May 29, 2018, the following information has been obtained through numerous investigative techniques,” according to a press release from Louisiana State Police.
Matthew L. Martin, 23, was operating his vehicle at the posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour prior to the crash. He decreased his speed as he approached Lewis’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 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 sustained and the front bumper damage to the Chevrolet helped to confirm the direction Lewis 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.
“The investigation shows that Lewis parked his vehicle on the shoulder in order to remove debris from the roadway,” the press release reads. “He and another pedestrian were attempting to remove wood building material from the right lane of US Hwy. 171 southbound.”
Lewis and the other pedestrian began relocating the wood to the grass median that separates the highway as the pickup truck, driven by Martin, approached. They were both in the roadway removing the debris when the crash occurred.
Two independent witnesses were identified in addition to the pedestrian who was with Lewis at the time of the crash. Troopers obtained statements from all.
With regards to the insensitive comment posted to social media that occurred after the crash, the Louisiana State Police defer to the May 29 statement made by Sheriff Sam Craft of the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“The inflammatory words that were used were morally wrong,” Craft wrote. “Although the incendiary language used in the social media post is morally and socially unacceptable, the post itself, did not violate any criminal code within Louisiana law.”
Martin was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash and was not injured.
Routine toxicology tests are pending.
The investigation of this crash remains active and ongoing.
Motorists that witness hazardous road conditions and/or reckless drivers are urged to call *LSP (*577) and report that activity to the nearest Louisiana State Police Troop headquarters.