On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, just before 3:30 p.m., Troopers assigned to Louisiana State Police Troop G began investigating a three-vehicle fatality crash on U.S. Hwy 171 near WPA Road. This crash claimed the life of 35-year-old Christopher Gray of Lake Charles.
The initial investigation revealed that a 2021 International (empty log truck), driven by 42-year-old Charles Barker of Florien, was traveling south on U.S. Hwy 171. At the same time, two Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) vehicles were stopped in the right lane of U.S. Hwy 171 as work crews made road surface improvements. Barker’s vehicle struck the first DOTD vehicle, which was a 2018 Dodge Ram truck, causing it to leave the roadway. After the initial impact, the International struck the second DOTD vehicle, which was a 2015 Ford dump truck. Gray was standing behind the Ford and was also struck. An additional DOTD worker was standing in the bed of the Ford and was ejected from the vehicle.
Gray suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene by the DeSoto Parish Coroner’s Office. Barker and two other DOTD workers were transported to local hospitals with moderate injuries.
Impairment is not suspected to be a factor in this crash; however, routine toxicology samples were taken and submitted for analysis. The crash remains under investigation.
Troopers would like to remind all motorists to make good decisions, such as buckling your seat belt, obeying all posted speed limits, and avoiding all distractions while driving. By remaining attentive to the roadway, motorists give themselves much needed time to react to changing road conditions ahead of them.
In 2023, Troop G has investigated two fatal crashes, resulting in two deaths.