A utility worker helping with Hurricane Ida was fatally struck by a vehicle Friday night in Slidell, state police said.
The identity of the deceased worker is being withheld pending proper notification to next of kin.
The initial investigation revealed the utility worker, while wearing reflective gear, was guiding traffic near Napoleon Avenue when a westbound 2001 Ford Ranger driven by John Kite hit a “Lane Closed” traffic control sign, multiple orange cones and then the utility worker.
The worker sustained serious injuries and later succumbed to those injuries at a local hospital.
Kite was not injured. Impairment is suspected to be a factor in the crash. Troopers arrested and took Kite to a nearby facility where his breath sample tested over the legal limit for alcohol. Troopers booked him into the Slidell City Jail for violating vehicular negligent injuring.
Meanwhile in an unrelated incident in Loranger, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Kendrick James, 35, of Loranger for allegedly harassing a power line worker with a handgun Friday about 6 p.m. near Gallates Road and Hwy. 445.
Chief Jimmy Travis said James allegedly refused to slow his vehicle in a flagged area where a power line crew was working. He waved his hands in the air and yelled as he sped through the work area, creating a dangerous situation, the lineworker said.
According to authorities, James soon returned to the work area driving a black Scion. He aggressively swerved and maneuvered his vehicle toward the lineman before coming to a complete stop. Then he rolled his window down, brandished a handgun, and began to verbally threaten the utility worker. The workers called 9-1-1 to report the incident out of fear for their safety.
Deputies later arrested James at his residence on a warrant charging him with aggravated assault on a utility worker.
“There is nothing more important than the safety of those who are working hard in the recovery process of our parish. Interfering with linemen trying to restore power in our parish will not be tolerated,” Travis said.