9-year-old girl killed in suspected drunk driving accident

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BELLE CHASSE, La. (WGNO) — Monday evening, dozens of people who knew and loved 9-year-old Abby Douglas gathered outside of University Medical Center to celebrate the life of a young girl who touched so many.

“She was a ray of sunshine. Sassy, fun-loving, always a smile on her face, no matter what,” said Gena Stephens, a family friend.

Around 8 o’clock Friday night, Abby and her mom were driving south on Belle Chasse Highway when they were rear-ended by a 2020 Infinity Q50 that was driving at a high rate of speed. The impact of the crash left Abby severely injured.

“I heard Abigail’s mother screaming for help. So, I ran to the van and that’s when I saw Abigail in the back seat, so I jumped in, checked for a pulse,” said Jairo Echeverry, who was one of the first people on the scene.

Police identify the man accused of driving the car that slammed into Abby’s as 58-year-old Wendell Lachney.

“We broke the glass of the other car and as soon as we pealed the glass back, smell all the alcohol,” said Jullian Sparacina, who was one of the first people on the scene.

Abby was rushed to the hospital and Lachney was later arrested on several charges, including first-degree negligent injuring and reckless operation.

Saturday, Lachney bonded out of the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

On Sunday, Abby died from her injuries.

“To know this was unnecessary and somebody chose to do this. They didn’t choose to take her life, but they chose to drink and drive and took hers away,” said Stephens.

Though the Douglas’ are mourning the loss of their only daughter, they decided to give the gift of life, donating Abby’s organs. Those who loved Abby watched on as University Medical Center raised a flag to honor the Douglas’ selfless decision.

“Abigail would want all of that. She would want to be helping someone else,” said Sara Waguespack, a family friend.

A beautiful, vibrant little girl was taken too soon, but through her tragic death, she gave life to so many others.

Abby leaves behind two younger brothers, her parents and many other family members and friends who adored her.

Police are still searching for Lachney who’s now wanted for vehicular homicide. If you’ve seen Lachney or know where he is, call the police.

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