Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deputies killed and injured after false 911 call.
Sheriff blames bad road conditions

Last summer, a Louisiana Sheriff's Office deputy was killed and another deputy was injured when their car ran off the road while they were responding to a false report of a body on a highway.

About two hours after they began their shifts, deputies Hilery A. Mayo Jr. and Mark Bott responded to a call about a body on Louisiana 21 north of Abita Springs. But as Mayo and Bott, who was training under Mayo, were driving, the car swerved off the left side of the road and landed in a ditch and hit a tree.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said news of the accident went out over the officers' radio "in a matter of seconds," but a deputy who responded to the scene was not able to save Mayo.

The Coroner's Office pronounced Mayo dead at the scene. Medics airlifted Bott to a hospital for surgery on his and shoulder. Both deputies were wearing seat belts. The vehicle had air bags, but Mayo's seat belt broke.

Strain said the call about the body in the road was unsupported and the Sheriff's Office found nothing. Apparently, the caller saw what looked like a body, but the Sheriff's Office will investigate whether the call was a prank or simply a mistake. The caller's identity is not known, he said.

Although it was not known how fast the car was traveling, Strain said Louisiana 21 is a heavily traveled road and anyone lying on it would be in grave danger. That would have made the deputies want to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Strain said Mayo was an excellent driver, and he blamed the accident on the parish's highway system. "Every state highway in Tammany is deemed substandard by the state's own description," he said. "One of my deputies has suffered from a substandard highway, as so many families have week after week in this parish." (info from New Orleans Times-Picayune)

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