Tragedy struck Melville after the small town’s incumbent mayor, Velma D. Hendrix, died in a car accident on election day. According to PEOPLE, the deceased 84-year-old was also seeking re-election.
In a statement, Louisiana State Police said that Hendrix was in an Acura RDX that was involved in a fatal collision with another truck on a highway on Tuesday morning. In the wake of the accident, Hendrix was transported to a hospital in critical condition, authorities said. She later succumbed to her injuries.
Hendrix was said to be in the backseat of the vehicle she was riding in. And police said they were able to establish, through a preliminary investigation, that the 84-year-old was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. The other vehicle involved in the collision was a 2015 Ram 2500 pickup.
Police said the collision occurred after the driver of the 2015 Ram 2500 pickup “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,” police added.
Police said the driver of the Acura and three additional passengers “suffered moderate to critical injuries and were transported to local hospitals for treatment.”
The driver of the pickup, identified as Michael Cook, did not sustain any injuries from the crash, police said, adding that he was also not wearing a seatbelt. Police also said a breath sample that he submitted indicated he did not have alcohol in his system. There were also no signs of impairment.
Cook, however, received a citation for “failure to yield from a stop sign and no seat belt.” “A routine toxicology sample from the driver of the Acura has been submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis,” police added. Authorities are still investigating the accident.
In the wake of Hendrix’s death, the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court released a statement saying that the election for Melville’s mayoral seat was going to be reopened, PEOPLE reported. The statement also said that “qualifying will be reopened on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 until Monday, November 14, 2022 and the election for Mayor of Melville will be held on December 10, 2022.”
Hendrix’s opponents in the election were Sheila “Sam” Londerno and Caretta Robertson. KSLA reports that Londerno, who earned 52% of the votes, will win the mayoral seat if no candidate qualifies during the stipulated reopening period.