Three New Iberia Siblings Die in Head-On Crash on I-49
Family members in New Iberia are in mourning as they lost 3 of their siblings this week in a car crash on I-49 in St. Landry Parish.
In a GoFundMe post, Katie (Simmons) DeRouen explains that she is the 2nd of 9 children of Ray and Dawn Simmons. Her three youngest siblings, Lindy (20), Kamryn (15), and Christopher (17), along with their mother, Dawn, and Christopher's girlfriend, Marissa, were returning from Christopher's basketball game that was held in Shreveport.
Traveling south on I-49, the family was on its way back to New Iberia when a driver entered the interstate the wrong way, traveling north in the southbound lanes. That vehicle collided with the Simmons vehicle head-on.
The resulting crash had the interstate closed down for several hours as first responders tended to the crash victims.
Katie's story of going from hospital to hospital, first looking for her siblings and then having to identify her siblings' bodies, is gut-wrenching. She describes her grueling night in the GoFundMe post.
My dad called me as I was at a Christmas party and told me “Mom got in a wreck. It’s not looking good, but she’s stable”. I flew to the hospital, crying along the way, thinking my mom was hurt but absolutely not thinking anything worse.
Katie had no idea how incredibly heart-shattering her night would become.
As she arrived at Ochsner's in Lafayette where her mother had been taken after the crash, she met up with her father and another one of her brothers. They had learned from Facebook that there had been 2 fatalities as a result of the crash. Katie was holding on to hope.
I was in complete denial and knew both fatalities had to be in the other car. There is no way that God would take one of my little babies from us.
Not long after, the family learned that there was only one occupant in the other vehicle. Katie's hopes were still high until her father received another call from a Louisiana State Trooper.
The state trooper called my dad back to say that the “young blonde that was driving” did not survive as well as the driver of the other car...
Katie and her family still didn't know where the ambulances had taken her siblings, so they were frantically reaching out to hospitals in the area trying to find them, asking for them by name.
What Katie didn't realize at the time was this: the hospitals that had received her siblings didn't know their names.
The state trooper suggested they try Opelousas General, as he believes that some of the crash victims were taken there. As Katie and her husband headed to Opelousas, Katie called again. This time, she received more information.
The operator informed me that they didn’t have anyone by their names, but they did have “someone from a car accident if I wanted to come and identify them.”
Identify them. Those words must have hit Katie like a ton of bricks.
When they arrived at the hospital, Katie spoke with a nurse who asked her to describe her sister. Not long after that, they were led to a room that held Kamryn's body. Katie explains what happened next.
We eventually were lead to the room where they unzipped my sweet baby sister’s body bag and revealed to me her perfect face. Yes, that’s Kamryn. I immediately called my dad to let him know it wasn’t Lindy, as we had thought. It was the baby, it was our baby, Kamryn.
I can not begin to understand the grief that Katie was experiencing at that moment. As we learn, this was just the beginning.
They asked the nurse if he could help them locate Christopher and Lindy, Katie's other two siblings, who were in the vehicle. The nurse left and then returned shortly after.
He left and returned in a few minutes to let me know that there was a young gentleman at Bunkie General. I let out a sign of relief as I stated okay, that’s my baby brother, at least he’s ok. Well, I know he’s not ok, but at least he’s alive.
That's when the nurse began to shake his head "no" and informed them that they needed to go to Bunkie General Hospital to identify Christopher's body. He also had news about Lindy's whereabouts.
He then proceeded to tell me the young blonde who was driving was still at the scene because they were unable to extract her from the vehicle.
That's the moment Katie knew that she had lost 3 of her siblings in the crash. 3 lives, in their prime, gone in a flash. We still don't know why that car was headed the wrong way on the interstate, but toxicology results are pending.
...nothing took away the pain that was bruing in my heart. The three babies of the family are gone. My dad lost his three youngest children and is with my mom in ICU.
Katie's thoughts turned to her mother who, at that moment, still had no idea she had lost 3 of her children.
My mom is in ICU without a clue as to what happened. 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.
I imagine it will be a long time before Katie and her family recover from this tragedy. We know that it's never a "good" time to lose a family member and, it seems, the holidays are the worst time.
Katie, through her grief, still has hope.
The hurt in Katie's written words is palpable. In a post on Facebook, she pleas for everyone to consider the consequences of driving under the influence (EDITORS NOTE: no positive toxicology report has been presented at the time of this story).
When you consider driving drunk, please think of these sweet faces. Think of their mom who is in ICU, unaware that she will wake up to the most devastating news a parent could ever face. Think of their dad who is waiting to see his wife in ICU and learns one by one that all three of his children in the car did not make it.
Katie and her family now have to face the holidays, from this day forward, with 3 fewer family members, all due to someone driving the wrong way.
Christopher's girlfriend, Marissa, suffered a broken femur and some bruising. Dawn Simmons, as of the time of this post, was still in the Intensive Care Unit at a Lafayette hospital.
Our thoughts are with the Simmons family as they try to navigate the holidays after this tragedy has turned their lives upside-down.