VERNON PARISH (LSP/KALB) - UPDATE from Louisiana State Police:
Louisiana State Police
The investigation shows that Lewis Jr. had parked his vehicle on the shoulder in order to remove debris from the roadway. Lewis and another pedestrian were attempting to remove wood building material from the right lane of US Hwy 171 southbound.
Lewis Jr. and the other pedestrian began relocating the wood to the grass median that separates the highway as the 2003 Chevrolet pickup, driven by Matthew M. Martin, approached. Lewis Jr. and the additional pedestrian were in the roadway removing the debris when the crash occurred.
Troopers have identified two independent witnesses, in addition to the pedestrian with Lewis Jr., and have obtained statements from all.
The crash remains active and ongoing.
With regards to the insensitive comment posted to social media that occurred after the crash, we defer to the statement made by Sheriff Sam Craft of the Vernon Parish Sheriff Dept.
UPDATE from Sheriff Sam Craft of Vernon Parish:
Sheriff Sam Craft would like to take a moment to address the tragic death of Sherell Lewis Jr. who was struck by a vehicle Tuesday on Highway 171 in the Billy Goat Hill area.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., May 29, the Vernon Parish 911 Communications Center received a report of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle in the area of the Zydeco Bar.
VPSO Deputies, Troopers from the Louisiana State Police, and Acadian Ambulance Personnel responded to the area where they located critically injured Sherell Lewis Jr., age 31, of Leesville.
Medical personnel immediately began to treat Lewis who was transported from the scene to Byrd Hospital to meet Life Flight.
The driver of the vehicle was at the scene of the accident and LSP Troopers spoke with him, as well as witnesses, regarding the incident.
Law enforcement personnel were notified a short time later that Sherell Lewis Jr. had succumbed to his injuries and had passed away during medical treatment.
The Louisiana State Police investigation into the incident is ongoing. LSP investigates all traffic accidents involving fatalities.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office has been contacted by numerous citizens regarding social media posts relating to the incident.
Sheriff Craft states, “I am appalled at the content of the social media messages that were posted after the incident. This post is unacceptable and has no place in our society. The inflammatory words that were used were morally wrong. I have the utmost confidence in the Louisiana State Police and their ability to thoroughly investigate this incident. I encourage any citizen who has information regarding the accident to contact the Louisiana State Police – Troop E, Alexandria, La. (318) 487-5911”.
Although the incendiary language used in the social media post is morally and socially unacceptable, the post itself did not violate any criminal code within Louisiana law, according to Craft.
Sheriff Craft and the employees of the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Sherell Lewis Jr.
The following was the initial information from Louisiana State Police:
A Vernon Parish man was killed Tuesday after being struck by a pickup on US Hwy. 171 north of Pickering.
According to a release from State Police, Sherell Lewis, Jr., 31, of Leesville, died after being struck by the vehicle around 3:15 p.m. Troopers said Lewis had stopped his vehicle on the southbound shoulder of Hwy 171 in an attempt to remove debris in the roadway. That's when a pickup driven by Matthew M. Martin, 18, of Hineston, collided with him.
Lewis Jr. was transported to Byrd Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Martin was not injured.
LSP said that the crash remains under investigation.
In the hours following the accident, KALB has received numerous Facebook messages about the nature of the accident and alleged comments made through social media afterward. Several reported that Tuesday was Lewis' 31st birthday. KALB will continue to work with State Police and Vernon Parish officials and will report any further developments related to the incident.