La. officer involved in crash that killed 2 high school students arrested

The officer has been charged with negligent homicide and negligent injuring after colliding with the victims' car during a police pursuit


By Ellyn Couvillion
The Advocate

ADDIS, La. — The Addis police officer who fatally crashed into the vehicle of Brusly High students on Saturday afternoon, during a police pursuit, has been arrested on two counts of negligent homicide and one count of negligent injuring, officials said.

The officer, David Cauthron, 42, was booked into the West Baton Rouge jail on Sunday night, with bail set at $100,000, and was still in jail Monday afternoon, West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes said.

Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, were killed when Cauthron, pursuing a suspect in a police pursuit that began in Baton Rouge, ran a red light and crashed into their vehicle in Brusly shortly before 12:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities have said.

"Sirens and police vehicles only give an officer permission to request to cut through a red light," said 18th Judicial District Court District Attorney Tony Clayton. "You must slow down or come to a complete stop when human life is in danger."

"Radio travels faster than the car; the officer could have just radioed ahead that the suspect's car was coming," Clayton added.

Both of the girls who died in the crash attended Brusly High School, where they were cheerleaders. Maggie's brother, University of Louisiana at Lafayette student Liam Dunn, who was also in the girls' vehicle, was last reported to be in critical condition in the hospital.

The pursuit of the suspect, Tyquel Zanders, 24, began in Baton Rouge, where he's accused of stealing his father's vehicle. Baton Rouge police officers were trying to pull Zanders over to the side of the road on River Road, near the Raising Cane's River Center, when Zanders sped off, speeding 80 mph on Government street and 110 mph on Interstate 10.

Zanders then drove across the Mississippi River Bridge into West Baton Rouge Parish, where authorities there began the chase. East Baton Rouge Parish officers had been called off the chase, after pursuing Zanders across the I-10 bridge.

In Brusly, Cauthron crashed his police unit into the girls' vehicle on La. 1., in front of the JW Food Mart at 561 N. Vaughn Drive in Brusly.

Zanders, meanwhile, continued traveling, driving back across the Mississippi River bridge to Baton Rouge; he was arrested at the Dalrymple exit when his car stalled.

Zanders faces counts in Baton Rouge of home invasion, theft of a vehicle and aggravated flight, according to Baton Rouge police.

In West Baton Rouge Parish, Zanders will be booked on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of the two teens, the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office said.

"I certainly hope the legislature totally revisits police pursuit laws," Clayton said. "This was over a young man who took his daddy's car."

A memorial service for the two girls is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Brusly High School football field.


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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