ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. — Four people are dead, including three members of a Louisiana family, after a head-on crash in St. Landry Parish on Friday night.
According to Louisiana State Police, the crash happened shortly after 9 p.m. on Interstate 49 after a pickup truck driving the wrong way on the highway crashed head-on into an SUV with five people inside.
Three passengers in the SUV: 20-year-old Lindy Rae Simmons, 14-year-old Kamryn Simmons, and 16-year-old Christopher Simmons were killed in the crash. The two other occupants were taken to the hospital and are in critical condition.
Katie Simmons DeRouen identified the victims of the crash as her mother and younger siblings along with her youngest brother's girlfriend. DeRouen said the family was driving home from her brother's basketball game when the crash happened.
The driver of the pickup, 54-year-old John Lundy, was also killed in the crash. It is unknown if he was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Troopers say the official toxicology results are still pending and the crash remains under investigation.
She created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover medical care for the surviving victims and share more of her family's stories. As of Monday morning, the campaign has received more than seven thousand donations, raising nearly $350,000.
"Losing one would have been tragic," DeRouen told The Advocate. "There are no words to describe losing all three babies of the family. We all have their gifts wrapped under the tree."
DeRouen said she went to Oschner Lafayette General Medical Center after getting a call from her father that her mother and siblings were in a crash. The family could not find Kamryn and Christopher Simmons because they arrived unnamed at two separate hospitals in Opelousas and Bunkie.
After driving to the two rural hospitals to identify the bodies of her younger siblings, DeRouen said she learned that Lindy Simmons died before first responders could remove her from the SUV.
"We went from our 'big family of nine kids' to six kids in the blink of an eye," DeRouen told the newspaper. "I don't know how we will ever move on or recover from this."
DeRouen told The Advocate that her mother has been asking about the condition of her three younger children, but will not be told of their deaths until she leaves the hospital's ICU.
"In one night the lives of several families have changed forever due to preventable circumstances," the LSP said.
Dr. Michele Caruso, Vice President of Student Affairs at Nicholls State University confirmed that Lindy Rae Simmons was a student at the university.
"We feel the loss of Lindy very deeply as a campus family," Caruso said. "Lindy's friends, teachers and others who knew her say she was gifted, creative, loved coffee and hanging out on The Wood with her friends, and that her family meant the world to her."
"We will do everything in our power to educate, increase awareness,m and prevent such tragedies in the future in memory of Lindy, as well as Michaila, Lily and Hali, whom we lost over the Thanksgiving break," Caruso added. "Our Nicholls family has sadly experienced an inordinate amount of loss, but we find comfort and strength in the closeness and love of our community. Our counselors are available during our holiday closure for anyone in our community experiencing grief."