City-Parish to assess Bluebonnet underpass safety measures after man drowns during flood

Louisiana News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – East Baton Rouge parish leaders say, they will assess roads prone to flooding including the Bluebonnet underpass after a man drowned in a flood.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about why a man was able to drive through the Bluebonnet underpass and why his body wasn’t discovered until hours later.

Monday night, multiple cars ended up under water in the area where there were no safety barriers and it’s unclear who was responsible for putting them up.

During the overnight rain and floods, St. George Fire made several visits to the underpass, but it took hours to realize someone was inside one of the vehicles.

“Had there been anyone visibly in a submerged car, we would’ve made every effort to rescue them. They called a boat out to the scene and we did our best to investigate and make sure that all of those cars were empty,” said St. George Fire Public Information Officer Eldon Ledoux.

The East Baton Rouge Coroner’s office confirmed Justin Thompson, 33, likely drowned after his vehicle entered the water.

BRProud News reached out to multiple agencies to figure out who’s responsible for putting up barriers and still there’s no clear answer. Different agencies we spoke to pointed to a different agency.

In a statement, the mayor’s office says:

This week East Baton Rouge Parish experienced a severe weather event that unfortunately resulted in the tragic loss of life. The speed and magnitude of the flash flood was challenging for all of our first responders, but thanks to their quick efforts, they assisted more than two hundred people in harm’s way. This event emphasized why it is important to never drive into flooded roadways, regardless if barricades are present. We are assessing roadways prone to flash flooding, like the Bluebonnet underpass, to determine if we can add proactive safety measures at those locations. More details will be announced about that concept at the appropriate time.

Mark Armstrong: Chief Communication Officer, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President’s Office

St. George Fire who responded to the multiple reports of submerged vehicles at this location has a protocol for rescues.

They said, they have to rely on tow companies to pull out vehicles.

“If there are no victims then we don’t have responsibility to remove them from the scene and we don’t have the means to,” said Ladoux.

Video shows about eight vehicles stalled at the underpass, but only one person died. Officials are now urging people to be cautious to prevent another tragedy.

“Do not drive where you don’t know where you are going. If you can’t see the road in front of you, the water is black, the road is black, it’s pitch at night, don’t take the chance,” said Ladoux.

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