Life for a Louisiana family has been “shattered” after losing three siblings in a wrong-way wreck one week before Christmas. Now, they’re struggling to pick up the pieces.
“Losing one would have been tragic,” Katie DeRouen, whose brother and two sisters were killed last week in the crash on Interstate 49, told The Acadiana Advocate. “There are no words to describe losing all three babies of the family. We all have their gifts wrapped under the tree.”
The accident occurred Dec. 17 when a Chevy pickup traveling the wrong way on the interstate slammed head-on into an SUV carrying five people just after 9 p.m., Louisiana State Police said in a news release. Inside was Lindy Rae Simmons, 20; Kamryn Simmons, 14; and Christopher Simmons, 16, all of Jeanerette.
Lindy died at the scene, troopers said. Kamryn and Christopher were taken to separate hospitals, where they died from their injuries.
Two other people inside the SUV were taken to area hospitals in critical condition, according to state police. The driver of the Chevy pickup, identified as 54-year-old John Lundy of Dallas, Georgia, was also killed.
Authorities haven’t said if alcohol was involved and are awaiting the results of a toxicology screening.
“In one night the lives of several families have changed forever due to preventable circumstances,” LSP said in a news release. “Over and over again, Troopers see the tragic consequences of preventable motor vehicle crashes.”
DeRouen, the second of nine children, told The Advocate her family was headed home from her brother’s basketball game that night when they were hit. She recalled driving “what seemed like 97 million hours” to three hospitals in a frantic search to find her loved ones.
Once there, she was tasked with identifying their bodies.
“Our lives are shattered,” DeRouen wrote on a fundraising page launched for the Simmons’ family. “We went from our ‘big family of 9 kids’ to 6 kids in the blink of an eye. I don’t know how we will ever move on or recover from this.”
DeRouen’s mother, Dawn Simmons, and her brother’s girlfriend were also seriously injured in the crash, according to The Advocate.
“My mom is in ICU without a clue as to what happened,” DeRouen wrote on the fundraising page. “The absolute hardest part of this entire experience, next to losing my siblings, is knowing that my mom will be informed of this whenever she awakens.”
“My parents lived for us,” she added. “Everything they did in life was for the benefit of their children.”
Louisiana State Police said the crash remains under investigation.