HAMMOND--Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop L began investigating a single vehicle fatal crash on Interstate 55 at the northbound exit ramp to US 51 in Tangipahoa Parish.
The crash took the life of the unrestrained driver 31 year old William Panter of Hammond. The crash occurred around 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17.
Preliminary investigation indicates that Panter was traveling north on Interstate 55 in a 1999 Ford pickup truck when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle drifted off the right side of the roadway.
The Ford pickup continued off road traveling through the grassy median between the service road and the interstate for approximately 630 feet before impacting a support pillar for the overhead interstate exit sign. Panter was not wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred and was transported to North Oaks Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Alcohol and/or drug impairment is unknown at this time pending a toxicology exam.
During the course of the crash, the vehicle severely damaged a support pillar for the overhead exit sign above both northbound lanes of the interstate. Due to the extent of the damage, neither the vehicle nor the sign can be removed from the scene until a Department of Transportation and Development repair crew arrives with a crane and additional heavy equipment.
Upon the arrival of the DOTD equipment, both northbound lanes of Interstate 55 will be closed for public safety while the sign is removed and dismantled.
Northbound traffic will be diverted off the interstate at the LA 22 / Ponchatoula exit and will be allowed to continue north utilizing U.S. 51 Business.
By 9:30 p.m., one northbound lane was re-opened. The lane closure is expected to take place at 7:00 pm and will remain closed until the necessary repairs are completed.
TFC Nick Manale
Louisiana State Police
Public Affairs Unit
Office: (985) 893-6250 Ext:628