An assistant district attorney from Lafayette who allegedly fled the scene shortly after a boating accident Aug. 8 on False River turned himself in to authorities Monday evening.
Chris Richard, 64, was booked into the Pointe Coupee Parish Detention Center on charges of felony hit-and-run, careless operation of a vessel and negligent injury.
He was released on $40,000 bond.
If convicted on the hit-and-run charge, he could face a $5,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison.
A conviction on the negligent injury charge could bring a $500 fine and six months imprisonment.
The careless operation conviction could lead to a $300 fine and 30 days in jail.
His arrest followed an investigation by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents after the accident on the south end of False River, directly across from The Sandbar.
The eight-day stretch between the incident and arrest angered some witnesses.
A few of them asked Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux about the delay.
“The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission told me they were just doing a very thorough investigation and trying to reach out to as many witnesses as they possibly could,” he said.
“The community was very mad that they waited that long to arrest him.”
Pointe Coupee Parish deputies were first on the scene, but had to turn the investigation over to LDWF.
“The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission handles all boat accidents on all state waterways, and I don’t think some people quite understood that,” Thibodeaux said.
“They wanted to know why we couldn’t do it, but that’s just not how it’s done.”
Richard reportedly jumped into the water to check on the three children but returned to his boat and left the scene.
Thibodeaux said Richard told investigators he went into the water to render help.
“That story is not verified by another witnesses,” the sheriff said. “Yes, he was in the water, possibly rendering help to the two people who were on his team.”
The investigation began after LDWF agents got word that Richard’s 20-foot pontoon boat collided with two juveniles who were pulled on inner tubes by another vessel.
One of the witnesses said Richard held onto the Jet Ski and was pulled onto the party barge, according to Thibodeaux.
Richard reportedly left immediately from his camp at False River and returned to his home in Carencro.
“If he had gotten off and helped that child, at that time it only would’ve been an accident,” Thibodeaux said.
“But by hightailing out of there and eluding all police and law enforcement, that’s wrong.
“Most of the people at The Sandbar were from Lafayette, and they were just as mad,” the sheriff said.
Richard reportedly refused to take a test to gauge his blood-alcohol level later that day when LDWF officials questioned him at his home.
The children were ages 8 and 14, according to Thibodeaux.
The 8-year-old was taken by AirMed to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released after he suffered a fractured pelvis.