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An assistant district attorney in Louisiana has been charged after authorities say he crashed his boat into three children and fled the scene.
Chris Richard, 64, was arrested on Monday by agents of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, according to a press release. Authorities allege that Richard was the driver of a boat that struck three children sharing a tube on Aug. 8, 2021.
All three children survived, but one was injured badly enough that he had to be airlifted to the hospital, according to ABC affiliate WBRZ. A second child was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, while a third declined medical treatment.
The children, all boys, were ages 8, 11, and 14, according to Lafayette’s KATC 3.
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux confirmed to Oxygen.com that two of the boys were brothers, while the third was a friend.
According to Sheriff Thibodeaux, Richard turned himself in.
"The wildlife and fisheries guys, along with [Richard's] attorney and wife, drove from Lafayette so he could turn himself in to the Pointe Coupee Detention Center," Thibodeaux told Oxygen.com.
Thibodeaux said bond was set at $40,000 and Richard was released after a couple of hours.
“According to witnesses and those involved in the incident, Richard initially jumped in the water to check on the three juveniles, but then got back on his boat and left the scene to go back to his camp on False River and then home to Carencro,” according to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries release. “One of the juveniles in the tube suffered a fractured pelvis and was airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.”
Sheriff Thibodeaux stated that the boy was having complications since breaking his pelvic bone in three different places.
"It'll be six to eight weeks before he could put his feet back on the ground," Thibodeaux told Oxygen.com.
According to the press release, Richard was operating a 20-foot pontoon while the children occupied a tube pulled “from another vessel.”
Witnesses said there were other occupants on Richard’s boat.
Complaints came when Richard, a prosecutor for the Lafayette District Attorney’s Office, had not yet been arrested for the incident.
Sobriety tests could not be performed, as one week had passed between the accident and the arrest.
Sheriff Thobodeux told Oxygen.com that Richard used the watercraft as "a party barge," though no alcohol- or drug-related charges have been filed against Richard.
The boating crash spurred local residents to hold a community meeting and discuss safety protocols, as reported by WAFB 9.
“We want to look at that situation and grow from it,” said resident Monique Breaux, according to WAFB. “And having this meeting this weekend felt like something we needed to do.”
“Thank God there’s no fatalities, but one child is still facing some downtime and some injuries right now,” said Thibodeaux, according to KATC. “He could not feel his legs. That’s a scary moment for a child, the parents, and everyone else there.”
Sheriff Thibodeaux described False River as "a beautiful lake" that once served as a "fisherman's paradise."
"Now it's becoming a great place for tourists to come," he told Oxygen.com. Visitors often eat on the river and enjoy recreational activities.
Richard was charged with felony hit and run, careless operation of a vessel, and negligent injury, according to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He was booked into the Pointe Coupee Parish jail before bonding out.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years behind bars.
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