Ascension Parish responders lauded as heroes after St. Amant rescue

Staff Report

Just before 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 27, emergency dispatchers received a call in reference to a vehicle submerged in the New River Canal along George Lambert Road at Hwy. 429 in St. Amant.

Ascension Parish Deputy Jamie Wolfe

Ascension Parish deputies, Louisiana State Police troopers, area firefighters, and first responders quickly arrived at the scene. The crews were able to rescue four occupants from the 2006 Nissan Titan, which included two children.

Ascension Parish Deputy Daniel Haydel

The following day, troopers reported the crash ultimately resulted in the death of 4-year-old Jason Molder of St. Amant.

Sorrento Firefighter Jeff Kelly

The initial investigation revealed the crash occurred as 24-year-old Alayna Duncan of St. Amant and her three passengers were traveling eastbound on Hwy. 429 in the truck. Molder was the rear seat passenger in the vehicle. 

Sorrento Firefighter Shane Wellman

For reasons still under investigation, the truck exited the roadway to the left and proceeded into a canal bordering the roadway, authorities said. After entering the canal, the vehicle became submerged.

Initially, Duncan and Molder sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash. They were transported from the scene to a local hospital for treatment. Troopers said seatbelt use was unknown.

The two additional passengers sustained moderate injuries as a result of the crash, and were also transported to a local hospital for treatment. As part of the ongoing investigation, a toxicology sample was obtained from Duncan for analysis.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre praised the efforts of the responding crews as “service beyond self” in a widely-shared social media post.

“I want to personally recognize many of our first responders for the heroic act that saved lives this morning,” Webre stated.

He said the incident could have been worse had it not been for the swift actions of the responders. Webre praised those representing Sorrento Fire Department, St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department, 5th Ward Fire Department, 7th Ward Fire Department, the Gonzales Medic Unit, and Acadian Ambulance.

“Thank you to Deputy Jamie Wolfe, Deputy Daniel Haydel, Sorrento Fire Department firefighters Jeff Kelly and Shane Wellman for going above and beyond this morning!” Webre stated.

St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc shared a message later in the morning asking the community for prayers for all of the families involved.

“As you can imagine, this is tough for the families - and also very tough on the Ascension emergency responders that responded to the call this morning,” LeBlanc said.

He also hailed the emergency crews, particularly the two deputies and the two Sorrento volunteers who quickly jumped into the water to rescue the occupants of the vehicle.

As LeBlanc added, the volunteer fire departments in St. Amant and Darrow responded to eight calls the previous night, including a house fire.

In a news release, troopers reminded motorists to never drive while impaired, always ensure every occupant is properly restrained, and avoid all distractions.