Louisiana officer charged in fatal crash that killed 2 high school cheerleaders

A Louisiana state trooper has been charged in connection with a New Year’s Eve car crash that killed two high school teachers while pursuing a suspected murderer.

Police officer David Cauthron, 42, of the Addis Police Department, allegedly ran a red light during the chase and collided with a car with three young passengers inside. at high speed,” according to a statement from the 18th judge, Tony Clayton. .

Cauthron was charged with two counts of negligent homicide. The accident happened just across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, according to the district attorney’s office.

The officer was chasing Tyquel Zanders, 24, after Zanders allegedly stole his father’s car, authorities said.

The officer then ran a red light on Louisiana Highway 1 and crashed into the car carrying the three teenagers, according to the district attorney’s office.

Caroline Gill and Maggie Dunn in a photo posted to the Brusly High School Cheerleading Facebook page.

Brucely High School Cheerleading/Facebook

Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, cheerleaders at Brusly High School, were killed in the crash, authorities said. Maggie’s 20-year-old brother, Liam Dunn, was also in the car and is in critical condition at a Lafayette hospital, officials said.

The cheerleading squad invited friends and family to share photos and memories of Maggie and Caroline in a Facebook post.

“As we mourn the passing of Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill please keep their families, friends, and the BHS community in your thoughts and prayers,” read a post on the Brusly High School Facebook page. . “Their enthusiasm and bright smile will be missed more than expected.”

After the crash, Zanders crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River west of Baton Rouge, where deputies from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department followed him and arrested him when his car stopped.

Zanders was charged with two counts of murder.

In a statement released by Clayton, he said his office will “conduct a thorough investigation of the incident,” which will include reviewing all surveillance cameras and police officers, communicating with the officer, and interviews with witnesses. The case will then be presented to the grand jury.

“We’re going to follow the facts, but I can’t understand why the officer drove the car so fast through the red light,” Clayton said. “Sirens and police cars do not give the officer the right to cut off the power, they have to slow down or stop completely when human life is in danger. , and if the lives of these young people had not been taken, he would have been sane.”

Clayton continued, “If it’s about putting human life at risk, then stop pursuing it. It’s not worth the risk. This is a tragic event that affects many families and the entire community, and It ended the lives of young people with a bright future ahead of them. It’s very sad.”

It is unclear whether Cauthron has retained an attorney.

The Addis Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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