Impaired driver arrested in crash that kills infant

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on September 15, 2018, Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop A began investigating a two vehicle crash that resulted in a fatality on LA Hwy 70 at LA Hwy 3120 in Ascension Parish. The crash took the life of 2-year-old Malashia Tumblin and resulted in the arrest of 27-year-old John T. Henderson of Baton Rouge.

The preliminary investigation by State Police revealed that the crash occurred as Henderson was driving a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup eastbound on LA Hwy 3120. At the same time, 50-year-old John Detwiler of Houma was driving a 2019 GMC pickup southbound on LA Hwy 70. As Henderson approached the intersection with LA Hwy 70 he failed to stop. His vehicle entered into the southbound lanes of travel into the path of Detwiler’s GMC, and as a result the GMC struck the Dodge on the driver’s side.

There were three juveniles and one adult in Henderson’s vehicle at the time of the crash, none of which were properly restrained. Malashia Tumblin was initially transported from the scene with critical injuries to Prevost Memorial Hospital in Donaldsonville, where she succumbed to injuries received in the crash. A 6-year-old female passenger sustained critical injuries and was transported to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL) in Baton Rouge. A 4-year-old male passenger sustained moderate injuries, and a 27-year-old female sustained minor injuries. Both were transported to OLOL as well.

Detwiler and a 50-year-old female passenger were both properly restrained and suffered only minor injuries, and both were transported from the scene to OLOL. A 26-year-old male passenger in the vehicle was uninjured. Impairment on Detwiler’s part is not suspected, but per standard procedures a toxicology sample was obtained from him to be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

Henderson was unrestrained at the time of the crash, but sustained only minor injuries. He was taken from the scene to the Ascension Parish Jail where he submitted to a breath test to determine impairment, the results of which were 0.103g% BAC. Henderson was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail for the following charges: 14:98 DWI (first offense), 14:31.1 Vehicular homicide, 14:39.1 Vehicular negligent injuring (4 counts), 14:39.2 1st degree vehicular negligent injuring, 32:295 Child restraints (3 counts), 32:123 Stop sign violation, and 32:295.1 No seat belt.

The poor decisions and criminal actions of one person has led to devastating consequences for all involved. Impaired driving continues to be a major problem throughout Louisiana. Whether impaired through alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, the consequences of driving while impaired remain the same as is evident in this preventable crash. Troopers also wish to remind motorists that all occupants in a vehicle must be restrained, regardless of seating position. While not all crashes are survivable, statistics show that the chances of surviving a crash rise significantly when properly restrained. Simply making safe decisions while in motor vehicles such as never driving impaired and ensuring all occupants are properly restrained can often mean the difference between life and death.

Contributed by Louisiana State Police