Louisiana mayor running for re-election dies in car wreck on Election Day

Velma Hendrix
Velma Hendrix(WVUE via KATC)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:06 AM CST
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ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KSLA) - The incumbent mayor of Melville, a small town in south Louisiana, who was running for re-election, died in a car crash on Election Day (Nov. 8) hours before polls closed.

Louisiana State Police says the wreck happened just after 11 a.m. on Highway 190 near Highway 741. The two-vehicle wreck claimed the life of Mayor Velma Hendrix, 84.

Preliminary investigation details show a 2015 Ram 2500 pickup truck, being driven by Michael Cook of Columbia, La., was headed south on Highway 741, while at the same time, a 2008 Acura RDX was headed west on Highway 190. As the Acura approached the intersection, Cook failed to yield as he tried to cross both westbound lanes of Highway 190. The front of the pickup hit the passenger side of the Acura in the westbound lane.

LSP says Hendrix was sitting in the rear left passenger seat of the Acura and was not wearing a seat belt. She was taken to a local hospital, where she later died. The driver of the Acura, who was wearing a seat belt, and three other passengers (seat belt usage unknown), all sustained moderate to severe injuries, LSP says.

Cook was also not wearing a seat belt, but was not injured. He gave a breath sample on-scene and showed no signs of intoxication, LSP says. Cook was cited for failure to yield from a stop sign and no seat belt. A routine toxicology sample from the driver of the Acura has also been submitted for analysis.

The St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court says qualifying will be reopened on Wed., Nov. 9 until Mon., Nov. 14 and the election for the mayor of Melville will be held on Dec. 10.

In regards to Mayor Velma D. Hendrix, Mayor of Melville's untimely passing, the Louisiana Comissioner of Elections,...

Posted by St. Landry Parish Clerk on Tuesday, November 8, 2022

If no one else qualifies before Nov. 14, Sheila Londerno, who secured 182 or 52% of 353 votes, will be declared mayor of Melville, according to the Louisiana Commissioner of Elections.

The wreck is still under investigation.