A Louisiana mayor running for re-election was killed in a car crash on Election Day, according to state police.
Melville Mayor Velma D. Hendrix, 84, died in a two-vehicle accident just before 2 p.m. Central Time near Port Barre, Louisiana.
“The preliminary investigation revealed a 2015 Ram 2500 pickup, driven by Michael Cook of Columbia, LA., was traveling south of LA 741. At the same time, a 2008 Acura RDX was traveling west on US 190,” the Louisiana State Police said in a statement.
“As the Acura approached the intersection, Cook failed to yield as he attempted to cross over both westbound lanes of US 190. The front of the Ram struck the passenger side of the Acura in the westbound lane of travel,” it added.
Hendrix, a Democrat, was a passenger in the rear left seat of the vehicle struck during the accident. She was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition before passing away.
The driver and three other passengers in the vehicle also suffered injuries and were taken to local emergency medical facilities for treatment.
Cook was reportedly cited for not wearing a seatbelt and not yielding at a stop sign. A breath sample indicated no signs of alcohol or impairment.
The accident remains under investigation.
St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard spoke out regarding the tragedy on Tuesday following Hendrix’s death with the Acadiana Advocate.
“Speaking to the people in that area they’re just shocked,” he said. “It’s tragic. The community is a small community and they’re mourning the loss of their mayor.”
The mayor was a longtime educator in the St. Landy Parish school system. Hendrix was first elected to office in 2018. She also previously served as a town alderman.
Hendrix was running for re-election on Tuesday against Sheila “Sam” Londerno and Caretta Robinson. All three candidates were Democrats, with Londerno projected to win 43.03% of the vote, Robertson 40.43%, and Hendrix 16.55%.
Since Hendrix died before the polls closed on Election Day, qualifying for candidates must be reopened. If a new candidate qualifies by Monday, a special election will be held on December 10.
If no new candidates are added, the current leader Londerno will be declared the winner, St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court Charles Jagneaux told the Acadiana Advocate.
Terrible news out of St. Landry. Melville Mayor Velma Hendrix died today in a 2-vehicle crash. She was on the ballot for re-election & is the 2nd mayoral candidate to die since last week. (See below.) Both races are cancelled. Qualifying will have to be reopened. #lalege #lagov https://t.co/xv6yEswAwN
— Jeremy Alford (@LaPoliticsNow) November 9, 2022