‘This is a teachable moment’: Tearful Oliver Thomas responds to arrest for unpaid traffic ticket

NEW ORLEANS — Former City Councilman Oliver Thomas was in a serious car crash Thursday evening that injured his two children and ended with him being arrested for an outstanding traffic ticket he never paid in St. Charles Parish.

Thomas, now a radio talk show host on WBOK 1230 AM, held a press conference Friday afternoon to address his arrest.

The 61-year-old was driving with his children on Read Boulevard toward Chef Menteur Highway Thursday evening when another vehicle driven by an elderly woman struck Thomas’ vehicle and sent his car into a ditch at the corner of Read and Dwyer Road.

Bystanders had to help get Thomas and his children, including his 21-month-old son, out of the car.

Thomas said it was a terrifying moment for him, having lost his first son in a car accident years ago.

“God gifted me with two younger children now, who were in that car with me,” he said. “When I looked at my son, getting him out of that seat, I never thought I’d have another son at that age … I have to live with the memories of what was when I lost my first son, and I have to live with the memories of what could have been to see my children bounced around that car.”

Thomas said he got a speeding ticket in St. Charles Parish about two years ago that he forgot to pay. He was arrested Thursday while at the emergency room with his children. He was booked for the outstanding warrant and for driving with a suspended license.

“That was my fault. I don’t remember the notices,” he said. “I should have taken care of it.”

But a tearful Thomas, who was a high-profile politician and potential mayoral candidate when he was convicted on bribery charges in 2007, said much of the media’s coverage of his arrest Thursday was “open-ended.”

“Stories are sensational because of who I was and who I am. This is about our life,” Thomas said. “Maybe, like much of my life, this is a teachable moment for some of us. If you have issues out there that are outstanding, clear them up. Clean them up. Take care of them. At the end of the day, I don’t want any family, any child, or any loved one to go through what I went through for being neglectful about traffic citations.”

Watch the full press conference below: