Published: 08-26-2023 | Category: Troop B
Ruddock – On August 25, 2023, just before midnight, Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop B responded to a two-vehicle crash on I-55 near the Ruddock exit in St. John the Baptist Parish. This crash claimed the life of 18-year-old Mohammad Zidan, of Harvey.
The initial investigation revealed that the driver of a 2021 Nissan Titan was traveling north on I-55 near Ruddock. The driver of the Nissan became ill and pulled onto the shoulder between the right lane of I-55 north and the Ruddock exit lane. After stopping, the ill driver and the rear seat passenger, Zidan, exited the vehicle to switch positions. As Zidan opened the driver’s side door and began to enter the driver’s seat, a vehicle traveling in the right lane of I-55 north veered onto the shoulder and impacted Zidan and the Nissan. After impact, the driver fled the scene and continued traveling north on I-55.
Zidan suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The original driver of the Nissan suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. An additional occupant in the Nissan was uninjured in the crash.
During the investigation, with the assistance of the public, Troopers were able to identify the vehicle that struck Zidan as a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche. Shortly after the crash, Troopers located the Chevrolet and it’s driver in Ponchatoula. The driver was identified as 37-year-old Lawrence Darensburg of Jefferson. As part of the continued investigation, Darensburg was determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the crash. Darensburg was placed under arrest and ultimately booked into the St. John the Baptist Parish Jail for Vehicular Homicide, DWI (2nd Offense), Felony Hit & Run and other traffic related offenses.
Troopers would like to remind motorists of the importance of safe decisions behind the wheel. Alcohol, prescription medication, and other drugs have many effects on the body that negatively affect driving skills. These drugs can impair visual ability, alter the sense of time and space, impair fine motor skills needed to operate a motor vehicle, and decrease reaction times. If you feel differently, you drive differently. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and designate a sober driver. Not doing so can have deadly consequences. While not all crashes are survivable, wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces the chances of being killed or seriously injured in a crash.
Sgt. Kate Stegall
Louisiana State Police
Public Affairs Section – Region 1
Office: (504) 471-2775