Bond increased for driver in fatal Gretna crash after court records expose history of drunk driving

Crime

A Louisiana judge has upped the bond for a man charged in a drunk driving accident that claimed the life of a 9-year-old girl.

GRETNA, La. (WGNO) — A Louisiana judge has upped the bond for a man charged in a drunk driving accident that claimed the life of a 9-year-old girl.

Police arrested 58-year-old Wendell Lachney on Monday, November 1 for vehicular homicide after his car rear-ended a minivan on October 22, causing it to slam into the car in front of it. Court documents report Lachney was driving 60 to 75 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone.

At the time of the crash, police say Lachney’s blood alcohol content was 0.22% — almost triple the legal limit.

State Troopers found multiple open alcohol containers in Lachney’s vehicle, including a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey, a cup of beer, and a bottle of wine. They also discovered nearly 2 ounces of marijuana and a smoking pipe.

Lachney admitted to having been drinking and smoking since 4 p.m. that day — about four hours before the crash.

After being treated at a local hospital for injuries, he was released on bond from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center the day after the crash.

At least two people were injured in the crash, including 9-year-old Abigail Douglas of Gretna, who, on October 24, succumbed to her injuries. That’s when police issued an arrest warrant for Lachney.

While Lachney’s bond was originally set at $300,000 for Douglas’ death, prosecutors on Wednesday requested that amount be increased to $1 million after discovering this was not his first DWI.

On May 25, 1990, Lachney was arrested on a DWI offense in St. John Parish. He pleaded guilty to the charge in August later that year. He received a suspended sentence of only 10 days in the parish jail on the terms that he completed community service, attend driving school, and participate in a substance abuse program.

Four years later in June of 1994, Lachney was convicted of a DUI charge in Island County, Washington. It is unknown was his sentence was.

The judge granted the prosecution’s request to increase Lachney’s bond amount, adding that he did not seem remorseful of the incident.

If Lachney posts bond and is released, the judge ordered he be:

  • Placed on GPS monitoring by Gretna PD
  • Prohibited from consuming alcohol and wear a device that tracks his content levels
  • Forbidden to drive, and all vehicles he has access to have an interlock device installed

Additionally, because of his BAC at the time of the crash, Lachney’s charge was elevated to a crime of violence by Louisiana law, which includes vehicular homicide when the driver’s levels exceed 0.2%.

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