Two teenage girls were killed and a third child was seriously injured while walking to school Thursday morning in the St. Martin Parish town of Breaux Bridge. State Police trooper Jared Sandifer says for an unknown reason a vehicle ran off the road, striking three children who were on a residential street.
"Unfortunately, as a result of that two of those children were killed and one of them is at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge," Sandifer said.
State Police say 15-year-old female was pronounced dead at the scene, a 14-year-old died on her way to the hospital. And a 13-year-old female has serious injuries at a Baton Rouge hospital.
Sandifer says it was a pick-up truck that hit the children and they are not sure what happened.
"For unknown reasons ran off the roadway, striking those children," Sandifer said. "The vehicle actually continued traveling away from the scene, the driver was stopped by Breaux Bridge PD and placed into custody."
The driver has been identified as 32-year-old Jeremy Abraham of Breaux Bridge. State Police say he's also in critical condition. Authorities say after Abraham struck the children, his vehicle then hit a utility pole, and struck two different culverts.
Sandifer says impairment is suspected and charges against Abraham are pending.
A new study, by the advocacy group Oceana, shows a misrepresentation of shrimp across the United States. The report used DNA testing to examine 143 shrimp products and found that 30-percent were falsely labeled in 111 grocery stores and restaurants.
Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry says that 90% of the shrimp eaten in the US is imported.
"Louisiana supplies about 5 to 6% of the remaining 10%. So the odds are, if you go to a major restaurant chain, that you're going to be eatin imported shrimp."
The most common substitution found in the study was farmed whiteleg shrimp being sold as "wild" and "Gulf" shrimp. Guidry says there are laws requiring "Country of Origin" labeling of seafood products for stores, but the laws do not extend down to the restaurant level. He says there are loopholes in the law.
"If a processor of imported shrimp in this country, it's three steps: you can peel it, devein it, batter it and put breading on it, it then becomes essentially domestic. It's a product of the USA. And that qualifies under the "Country of Origin" labeling law."
Guidry says it is frustrating that so much shrimp and other seafood is mislabeled. He says the government needs to take action on this issue.
"A lot of our issues with the domestic shrimp industry are not having to pass any new laws, they're just getting the federal government to enforce the laws that are already on the books."
The Department of Health and Hospitals says the state has banned another compound that is used in synthetic marijuana. They say the designer drug, sold under the names "Mojo" and "Spice," has been blamed for the hospitalization of more than 125 residents in the Baton Rouge area since October 3rd.
"This compound, MAB-CHMINACA, has been seen in very large numbers in the Baton Rouge area, and really hasn't been seen anywhere else in the United States yet," says Louisiana Posoin Control Director Mark Ryan.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement that law enforcement in Louisiana will stop at nothing to protect the people here and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who is selling these drugs. Ryan says "MAB-CHMINACA" is a very new drug that's putting some users in the intensive care unit.
Ryan says these synthetic drugs are in no way natural or safe and they are specifically designed to be abused.
"They've never been tested, so you're playing a very dangerous game when you use these things," said Ryan.
The final televised US Senate debate before the November fourth election saw the three main candidates taking shots at each other. US Senator Mary Landrieu continued to tout her clout in Congress but Retired Air Force Col Rob Maness was prepared for that argument.
"We don't need Senators with the seniority and clout that enables you to have a staff that spends $33,000 in tax money to fly yourself to campaign events and break the law," said Maness.
Landrieu says the biggest difference between she and Congressman Bill Cassidy is their stance on retirement. The incumbent says Cassidy has voted four times to raise the social security age to 70 and he said it will not hurt anyone.
"I want to remind you, Congressman Cassidy, that the life expectancy of an African American in Madison Parish is 70-years-old," said Landrieu. "So you expect them to work their whole life, pay into social security and earn benefits but get nothing back?"
Cassidy also dismissed Landrieus claim that her seniority is good for Louisiana.
"She said her first priority when becoming chair of this energy committee, was to get a Senate Floor vote on Keystone XL Pipeline," said Cassidy. "She's not been able to do so. She said she's done everything in her power to do so. That just means she's not very powerful."
The Saints will look to repeat their terrific performance against the Packers when they visit NFC South rival Carolina tonight. Last Sunday, Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Mark Ingram rushed for a career-high 172 in a 44-23 win over Green Bay. Brees says Ingram's strong game opened up plays for the passing attack.
"Anytime the running game's running on all cylinders like it was, it just opens up a whole new set of opportunities," said Brees. "You talk about the downfield passing game, the play action, where they have to respect the run, some matchups downfield. You have one-on-one opportunities, I think we have the guys that can win those matchups."
The Saints have had trouble winning on the road. New Orleans last regular season road victory came against Atlanta on November 21st of last year. But Brees says there's confidence they can get the job done tonight.
"We're on our way to getting that first win on the road in a while," Brees said. "We all believe it will be this week."
A win for the Saints and they can move into first place in the NFC South.
The Panthers have failed to win their last three games, but they should get a boost with the return of running back DeAngelo Williams, who has missed the last six games because of injuries. Defensive End Cam Jordan on the challenges Williams brings to the defense.
"Everybody knows he is a great running back in his own right and this is his first week coming back, so he'll have fresh legs. He'll definitely be running hard, but we'll be looking to improve our defense, it's not about him, it's about us."
A sports information and wearable technology company has developed a mouth guard with a chip that logs information about how hard a football player is hit and LSU is the only college using them this year. i1 (eye-one) Biometrics CEO Jesse Harper says not only does the chip log the intensity of the impact, but also where they were hit.
"It sends a 3D picture over to the sidelines so a render of that players head alerts the sideline staff," said Harper. "Then if the athletic trainers think it's worthy of taking a look at they can pull that player out and check on him."
Harper says the data can show the severity and location of impact which can assist in proper decision making by the training staff should they decide to remove the player from the field of play for further medical evaluation. Harper says they are working to make the sport of football safer for players.
"When the NFL moves the kickoff forward to reduce the running distance for these guys, we can measure if that actually lowers the amount of impact these guys are taking," said Harper.
Harper says this technology can also measure things like the difference in head impacts on turf versus grass. He says about 30 LSU players have been using this mouth guard since practice began this year and the feedback from the trainers has been phenomenal.
"The players are really comfortable with it," said Harper. "And as far as data it's performed exactly like we wanted."
Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz has endorsed Calhoun Republican Zach Dasher in Louisiana's 5th District Congressional race. Cruz, who is considering a presidential run in 2016, is a favorite among the tea party movement.
ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is a significant endorsement for Dasher.
"This is a significant indicator of where Dasher stands in this Congressional race and it sheds light on other very conservative endorsements Dasher has received."
A recent poll by the Glascock Group shows Dasher gaining ground with a week to go until election day. Stockley says you don't need a poll to know that Dasher is a strong contender in this election.
"He's pushing Ralph Abraham and Vance McAllister, as well as Jamie Mayo, for a spot in the runoff."
Stockley says the endosement from Cruz and the support Dasher has from the "Duck Dynasty" family has given him momentum going into November 4th. Stockley says this is a last minute attempt for Dasher to rally Republican voters to his side.
"And that's what Abraham and Vance McAllister and, to a lesser extent, Harris Brown are trying to do."
According to early statistics released this morning, over 236,000 registered voters took advantage of the early voting period that ended yesterday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the final day saw 47,000 casting an early ballot.
"The final day was a huge push across the state, so we're kind of mixing and matching numbers here this morning to see what that means."
Statistics show Orleans led the way with over 23,000 early voters followed by East Baton Rouge Parish with over 22,000 participating. Schedler says this year's totals are short of the 356,000 early voters that turned out for the 2012 election.
"We're running about 66% of the 2012 numbers when we had a 68% voter turnout."
Schedler had predicted a 45 to 50-percent voter turnout for Tuesday's election, based on historical data. Now that he has figures for this year's early voting, he thinks turnout could go up to 54-percent. Schedler hopes voters prove his prediction wrong on November 4th.
"That would be a good day for Louisiana if we could get up above 60 and beyond and set a good example for the country."
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu will face off with Republican challengers Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness in a televised US Senate debate tonight.
LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says this will be voters' last chance to see all three major candidates before election day.
"I think you're going to see really an effort by all three candidates to speak directly to the types of voters who they're trying to contact through their campaigns."
He says none of the three candidates have enough support to win the election outright next Tuesday. Hogan thinks Landrieu will be aggressive towards Cassidy during the debate.
"Tying him to the polarization that exists in the Congress and pointing out that he's been very supportive of several positions, especially with regard to the budget, in the House of Representatives that voters see as problematic."
Hogan says it will be interesting to see whether or not Maness will use this debate to differentiate himself from fellow Republican candidate Cassidy. The debate will begin at 7PM. Check your local listing for stations airing the debate. Hogan says Cassidy will keep tying Landrieu to Democratic policies and President Obama.
"Obama is very unpopular in this state, and has been so for some time. The health care law is still rather unpopular, at least the way it's described to most voters."
Is Governor Bobby Jindal packing on the weight to prepare for a possible Presidential campaign? National Review Online says a Jindal source reported the Louisiana governor has gained 13 pounds over the past few months.
UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Jindal has always been small and skinny.
"He may think to have the "heft" to make it, both figuratively and literally, would be what he needed to make it on the national stage," said Cross.
Cross says usually when a politician is preparing a possible Presidential run they will work to lose weight to get ready for the campaign trail. In Jindal's case it would be to gain weight. Cross says voters take appearance into account.
"Looking right for the role is part of the entire process," said Cross.
Cross says this is probably a sign that someone has told Jindal it might be a good idea to beef up if he intends to seek Presidency.
"Certainly a political advisor has crunched some numbers and decided this would help make Jindal more palatable to voters," said Cross.
A new poll on the 5th District race shows incumbent US Senator Vance McAllister failing to make the runoff. The Glascock survey of 500 respondents has the incumbent with 15.7%, trailing Republican Ralph Abraham at 24% and Democrat Jamie Mayo at 18%. Pollster Darrell Glascock says these results were surprising.
"McAllister in every poll I've done has always won or been in second place," said Glascock. "He's significantly dropped in points and right now if the election were held today he would not make the runoff."
Glascock attributes this latest change in the numbers to the Duck Dynasty crew and their support of family member Republican Zach Dasher who got 15.1% in this poll.
"They put on a pretty negative campaign against McAllister," said Glascock. "And now they've moved themselves up to be within striking distance of Mayo for second spot."
Glascock says according to his numbers Dr. Abraham is almost guaranteed a spot in the runoff. He says if Jamie Mayo keeps up his numbers and can get Democrats and minorities out to the polls, then he's got the second spot.
"If the Dasher campaign continues to move they have really good shot at picking up three or four points and moving ahead of Jamie," said Glasock.
The Affordable Care Act was a hot topic during a televised US Senate debate Monday night, between democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and republican challenger Rob Maness. Maness says if elected, he'll seek to yank out Obamacare by its roots.
"This bill imposes a fine on every individual to make them buy a product," Maness said. "That's not only unconstitutional and Un-American, it's just flat wrong."
Landrieu supported the Affordable Care Act when it passed and says she would vote for it again, because it's provided thousands of low-income families in Louisiana a chance at purchasing health insurance.
"And the average premium is 83-dollars a month for them. That's affordable, it's not free, but it's affordable."
Maness disagrees with the notion that Obamacare is affordable, especially for small business owners.
"I've been in every parish in the state at least once, most of them twice, and all of the small business owners tell me it's killing jobs, it's killing their ability to create jobs."
Landrieu admits the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but there are many good provisions in the law.
"I'm telling you this is a good bill, it's not perfect, I will defend it and I will fight for it."
Cassidy was invited to Monday night's debate, but decided not to show up. All three major candidates will be involved in another televised statewide debate on Wednesday night at 7 PM.
According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Louisiana is the lowest it's been in four years. The Bayou State's average price has fallen to $2.88 per gallon.
AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says this is a surprising turn of events considering the geopolitical tensions around the world.
"Historically, we would expect those prices to be higher, but no. In fact, we're seeing prices we haven't seen since 2010."
Redman says current geopolitical tensions are not the current driver when it comes to the price at the pump. He says today it's more of a fundamental driver, supply and demand.
"And you're looking at a very health inventory of crude oil. In fact, oil, which would traditionally would be, especially with the violence in the Middle East, hovering around $100 a barrel is sticking around $80 to $81 a barrel."
He says there is a healthy inventory of crude oil which is keeping gasoline prices down. Redman says, as we head into November and the holiday travel season, prices at the pump could continue to fall.
"The expectation is that we could see the price continue to drop perhaps by another ten cents sometime in November."
LSU fans had a lot of fun storming the field on Saturday night after the thrilling victory over an undefeated top 5 Ole Miss team, but crews are now working to fix the damage. Assistant Sports Turf Manager Hunter Sexton says it wasn't nearly as bad as they thought it would be.
"I mean we had probably 60,000 people on the field and we were just glad they didn't take our goal posts from us," said Sexton.
LSU was fined $5000 by the SEC for allowing its fans to rush the field. Sexton says the biggest issue was people using keys and pocket knives to cut out sections of the field as a souvenir.
"Some people were actually just leaning down and grabbing grass to put into their pockets," said Sexton.
Sexton says there were about a dozen spots where they needed to replace turf, but the other areas were filled in with sand just like after any game. He says the bi-week will help get the sod growing again and the field should be just fine before the Alabama game November 8th.
Sexton says it was exciting and he's glad fans got to experience that.
"We haven't rushed the field in a number of years, I guess 2001 was the last I remember," said Sexton. "It goes both ways, I was excited but I was also hoping they didn't tear it up too bad."
Update: LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has released the following statement regarding fans rushing the field:
BATON ROUGE – LSU vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva issued the following statement today on the Ole Miss game, which the Tigers won 10-7 last Saturday night in Tiger Stadium:
“Let me begin by offering my condolences to the family of Mr. Brian Tingley, who passed away in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. It’s my understanding he was an extremely dedicated Tiger fan, and his presence in our stadium will certainly be missed.
“Regarding the game, Tiger Stadium was as electric and passionate as it’s ever been, and on behalf of Coach Miles, our players, and the entire football staff, I want to thank our fans for their incredible support. Our stadium is a game-changer, and we sincerely appreciate the way our fans can impact the outcome with their energy.
“Having said that, I encourage everyone to celebrate great LSU victories within the seating areas of the stadium, and not on the field. LSU represents the achievement of victory with dignity, and we do not want to sacrifice safety or sportsmanship. We would never endorse the ‘storming of the field’ by our fans – it is a violation of the protocol established by the Southeastern Conference, and serious injuries have occurred at the venues of our member institutions. It is our sincere responsibility to maintain a safe and secure environment for everyone, and we must adhere to the principles set forth by the SEC.
“We have the opportunity to play a very meaningful game in Tiger Stadium on November 8, and I look forward to joining over 100,000 devoted fans for what will be another unforgettable night!”
Sasol has announced plans to move forward with the building of an $8.1 billion dollar ethane cracker and chemical complex near its existing Westlake facility. Construction is set to begin next year.
Governor Bobby Jindal says that Sasol's investment doesn't stop there.
"They're going to be spending another $800 million for infrastructure improvement, land acquisition, utility improvement costs at the site, bringing the total site cost for this project to nearly $9 billion."
Jindal says this investment will create 500 direct new jobs with an annual salary of $88,000. Louisiana Economic Develpoment estimates that the project will create an additional 5,000 construction jobs and nearly 2,400 indirect jobs. Jindal says Sasol's investment shows that Louisiana is open for business.
"The fact that they're choosing to invest here is part of an overall complex that could be the largest ever direct foreign investment in our country's history shows that Louisiana can compete."
This investment by the South African company could turn into a $22 billion dollar venture if a proposed gas-to-liquids plant is also built. Sasol President and CEO, David Constable says they are thrilled to expand their presence in Louisiana.
"Sasol chose southwest Louisiana for our US mega-projects because of its people, right, its productive workforce and its efficient transportation and energy infrastructure."
With a week to go before the November 4th election the debate rages on over who would be the better person to serve as Louisiana Senator, Bill Cassidy or Mary Landrieu. The Congressman says Landrieu represents Washington D.C. politics.
"She has already, for the last six years, made the US Senate a rubber stamp for Barack Obama," said Cassidy.
Cassidy's criticism of Landrieu has not changed throughout his campaign and he continues to say that the Senator votes with the President 97% of the time and would vote for Obamacare tomorrow if she could. He says Landrieu constantly takes credit for getting Federal aid for Louisiana but it wasn't just her.
"It was our delegation, not just Senator Landrieu," said Cassidy.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says his sister has clout in Congress and will always push to get Louisiana it's fair share.
"You can't hide the fact that Mary has delivered billions of dollars for the state," said Landrieu. "Louisiana is a little state and will get run over by the bigger states if you don't have a powerful Senator there."
Mayor Landrieu says if we don't send the incumbent back to Washington we're going to be in a huge mess if another storm hits. He says getting money to rebuild is not possible without a big presence in Washington D.C.
"She's given that to us," said Landrieu. "I'm encouraging people to send her back so we can continue with the recovery of New Orleans and the state."
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson has cut two new commercials endorsing his nephew, Republican 5th Congressional District candidate Zach Dasher. In the spot, Robertson says Bibles and guns are what brought us here, and Bible's and guns will keep us here and Dasher believes in both.
"With 7 days left to go before election day, he's literally pulling out the big guns," said ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley.
Dasher is up against Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and fellow Republican challengers including incumbent Congressman Vance McAllister, Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown and Clyde Holloway. Stockley says these ads certainly won't hurt Dasher in the race because a lot of people still don't know who he is.
"The most important aspect of Phil Robertson cutting these commercials on behalf of Zach Dasher is a last minute attempt to increase Dasher's name recognition," says Stockley.
Stockley says this is a close race so it's hard to tell if these commercials, which will reportedly run through election day November 4th, will give Dasher a boost. He says they know there are a lot of voters in the district who are sportsman and very evangelical that will be warm to the ads.
"What we don't know is if it will push people who weren't planning to vote or who were undecided in Dasher's direction," Stockley said.
The brother of the Gretna man who died during the LSU game Saturday night says that's how Brian Tingley would have wanted to go. Athletic officials released a statement saying it appears the fan suffered a heart attack in the 4th quarter of the Tigers 10-7 win over Ole Miss. Ross Tingley says his brother was a 35 year season-ticket holder.
"He never missed a game," said Tingley. "No matter if it was raining or if the Tigers were only winning a couple games a season he was always in those seats."
East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark says the 59-year-old was pronounced dead at 11:25 Saturday night. Tingley says it didn't matter if LSU was having a bad year, his brother never missed a game.
"He died doing what he loved," said Tingley. "If you gotta go, he went the right way and died happily."
Dr. Clark says the Plaquemines Parish coroner's office is handling the investigation but they found the fan died from complications related to heart disease. Tingley says his brother is survived by his loving wife.
"He didn't have children but he loved all of his nieces and nephews," said Tingley. "Brian just had a heart of gold."
(pictured: Brian Tingley courtesy of Lexie Tingley Fuller)
A Suffolk University poll on Louisiana's US Senate race shows the two front-runners in a statistical dead heat leading up to next Tuesday's election. 36-percent said they would vote for Democrat incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu in the primary, while 35-percent chose Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy.
Dr. Michael Henderson, Director of LSU's Public Policy Lab, says this poll is different than most.
"Now, what this poll does that's kind of interesting, is they kind of give a more nuanced look at the primary. Maness is in there. A lot of the polls that are out there really focus on the two person race and what the most likely runoff will be."
Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness polled 11-percent of the vote. However, when the poll shifts to a Landrieu-Cassidy runoff, it shows Cassidy with a 7-point lead over the incumbent. Henderson says that lead is a little bigger than what we've seen in other surveys.
"But the margins of error on these polls are certainly overlapping. So, this is within the realm of what we've been seeing in polling."
The poll surveyed 500 voters across the state October 23-26. Henderson says it's rare for a three-term Senator, like Landrieu, to be considered an underdog going into an election.
"This is a case where if Senator Landrieu can hold her seat, I think most observers would actually think of that as an upset, which is very strange."
Louisiana State Police say a head-on collision in Assumption Parish has taken the life of a 10-year-old girl and sent three others to the hospital. Trooper Evan Harrell says a Honda Civic was traveling south on LA-1 in Napoleonville and crossed the center line where a Nissan Altima was traveling north.
"It attempted to avoid the Civic and went onto the shoulder, but it was still struck head-on"
He says Naveah Pierson of Gray was not restrained at the time of the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. Harrell says the three others involved in the crash were not seriously injured.
"They were transported to regional hospitals in the area."
Harrell says impairment is not a suspected factor in this crash and the investigation is ongoing. He says this is a tragic reminder that children of all ages should be properly restrained while riding in a vehicle.
"But as the parent, or as the driver of that vehicle, you need to be a responsible adult and take that responsibility seriously and make sure that everybody in your vehicle is properly restrained at all times."