A Louisiana cop is facing charges for plowing into an unrelated car and during a high-speed chase on New Year’s Eve — leaving two high school cheerleaders dead.
Officer David Cauthron, 42, of the Addis police force, was charged with two counts of negligent homicide Sunday in the deaths of Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, according to WBRZ.
Maggie’s brother Liam Dunn, a freshman at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was reportedly critically injured in the crash.
Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton berated the cop, who has been with the police department for less than a year. He previously worked for a sheriff’s office in the state.
“That cop has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence,” Clayton said Sunday, according to WBRZ. “The public can rest assured, we will follow the facts.”
Sources told the news outlet that Cauthron’s vehicle was going about 86 miles per hour during the chase of suspect Tyquel Zanders, who is accused of stealing a family member’s car. Sources also told the news station the police officer did not slam on the brakes before hitting the car the girls were in.
Witnesses said Cauthron ran a red light when his police car reached the intersection and ran into the victims’ car around noon, according to the news station.
The chase began when Zanders, 24, entered a home where he was not welcomed and shoved his father to the ground before taking the keys to a Nissan, The Advocate reported, citing Clayton and booking documents.
Zanders, who was later arrested when his car stalled, is expected to also face charges of manslaughter in the deaths of the two girls on top of the charges tied to the car theft, according to the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, the newspaper reported.
“He put the chain of events into play,” Clayton, the prosecutor, told The Advocate. “He’s responsible for all the reactions to his actions. He’s facing two counts, and if that poor kid doesn’t survive, he’ll face another.”
The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office also carried out the arrest of the police officer, according to the newspaper.
The two slain high school students were remembered by the Brusly High School cheerleading team in a Facebook post Sunday.
“As we mourn the tragic deaths of Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill please keep their families, friends, and the BHS community in your thoughts and prayers,” the cheerleading team stated. “Their enthusiasm and bright smiles will be missed more than can be imagined.”
The high school said Dunn was a junior and Gill was a sophomore.
“We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child as you need,” said high school principal Walt Lemoine.
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