Election Day this week was a tragic one for a small community in Louisiana as its incumbent Democratic mayor who was seeking re-election was killed in a car accident Tuesday morning, the Conservative Brief reported.
Velma D. Hendrix, the 84-year-old mayor of Melville, Louisiana, passed away shortly after a vehicle she was riding in was struck by a large truck that reportedly failed to yield at a stop sign.
Tragedy on Election Day
The Louisiana State Police issued a news release on Tuesday after its troopers responded to the two-vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 190 with LA 741.
A 2015 Dodge Ram truck, driven by a man named Michael Cook, had been traveling south on 741 but failed to stop at that road’s intersection with 190 and attempted to cross two lanes of traffic. At that time, unfortunately, a 2008 Acura RDX traveling west on 741 was passing through the intersection and was struck on the passenger side by the truck.
“Hendrix was the rear left seat passenger in the Acura,” the LSP release stated. “She was unrestrained at the time of the crash and was transported to a local hospital in critical condition where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries.”
The driver and three other passengers in the Acura also sustained injuries and were transported to a hospital for treatment. Cook, the driver of the Dodge truck, was not injured, nor did he register any signs of alcohol or other impairment, and he was issued citations for failing to yield at a stop sign and for not wearing a seat belt.
Mayor’s race now complicated
According to the Daily Wire, Mayor Hendrix was first elected leader of Melville in 2018 after having previously served as a town alderman as well as an educator in the St. Landry Parish school system.
She was seeking re-election in a three-way race against two other Democrats but had been projected to lose that bid by a substantial margin.
Her tragic death on Election Day, however, having occurred prior to the polls closing, caused that particular race to be canceled and delayed, at least until Monday for any other qualified candidate to enter in her place, at which point a special election will be held on Dec. 10.
However, if no other candidates emerge, then the results of Tuesday’s partial election involving the other two candidates will stand and the current leader will be declared the winner.
Parish leader mourns loss of beloved local mayor
“Speaking to the people in that area, they’re just shocked,” St. Landry Parish President Jessie Ballard told The Acadiana Advocate of Hendrix’s death. “It’s tragic. The community is a small community and they’re mourning the loss of their mayor.”
Ballard went on to describe the late mayor as a “nice lady” who was beloved in Melville, and shared that his parish government had been working closely with Hendrix to help improve the small town’s financial situation.