Election day is usually full of tension and surprises but no one expects the devastation of lost life. A Louisiana Mayor who was running for re-election sadly was killed in a car crash on election day.
The Louisiana town of Melville’s Mayor Velma D. Hendrix, 84, died in a two-vehicle accident just before 2 p.m. Central Time near Port Barre, Louisiana.
“The preliminary investigation revealed a 2015 Ram 2500 pickup, driven by Michael Cook of Columbia, LA., was traveling south of LA 741. At the same time, a 2008 Acura RDX was traveling west on US 190,” the Louisiana State Police explained in a statement.
“As the Acura approached the intersection, Cook failed to yield as he attempted to cross over both westbound lanes of US 190. The front of the Ram struck the passenger side of the Acura in the westbound lane of travel,” the statement added.
Hendrix was the Democrat incumbent in her race. She was also the passenger in the rear left seat of the vehicle struck during the accident. Reports claim she was not wearing a seatbelt and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition before passing away.
Terrible news out of St. Landry. Melville Mayor Velma Hendrix died today in a 2-vehicle crash. She was on the ballot for re-election & is the 2nd mayoral candidate to die since last week. (See below.) Both races are cancelled. Qualifying will have to be reopened. #lalege #lagov https://t.co/xv6yEswAwN
— Jeremy Alford (@LaPoliticsNow) November 9, 2022
The driver and three other passengers in the vehicle also suffered injuries. All involved were taken to local emergency medical facilities for treatment.
Cook was cited for not wearing a seatbelt, as well as not yielding at a stop sign. Police say a breath sample indicated no signs of alcohol or impairment. The accident remains under investigation.
St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard spoke out regarding the tragedy.
“Speaking to the people in that area they’re just shocked,” he said. “It’s tragic. The community is a small community and they’re mourning the loss of their mayor.”
Mayor Hendrix was a longtime educator in the St. Landy Parish school system. She was originally elected to office in 2018.
Hendrix was running for re-election on Tuesday against Democratic challengers, Sheila “Sam” Londerno and Caretta Robinson. All three candidates were Democrats. In the time up to the race Londerno was projected to win 43.03% of the vote, Robertson 40.43%, and Hendrix 16.55%.
Due to Hendrix dying before the polls closed on Election Day, qualifying for candidates must be reopened. If a new candidate qualifies by Monday, a special election will be held on December 10.
If no new candidates are added, the current leader Londerno will be declared the winner.