A Hammond, Louisiana, man was in critical condition Wednesday with severe head trauma and a Tickfaw man left dead after a suspected shoplifting traffic stop ended in a wreck. Brandon McKay, 30, of Hammond was the passenger in the red SUV that caught fire after climbing an embankment and striking an overpass bridge Tuesday evening, according to city police. He and driver Bradley Melancon, 26, of Tickfaw were trapped in the badly damaged vehicle until responders from Hammond Fire Department extricated them. An ambulance took them to North Oaks Medical Center, where Melancon was pronounced dead. Shortly after the crash, Hammond police were on foot directing traffic away from the wreck while smoke rose from the vehicle that had come to rest against a highway railing.
The accident happened after police stopped the vehicle in response to a shoplifting complaint at Walmart, a city spokeswoman said. When police approached the SUV, which matched the description provided in the complaint, McKay was compliant. However, after a fight ensued between an officer and Melancon, who was in possession of a knife, Melancon fled in the vehicle with McKay, authorities said. Police Chief James Stewart said the officers lost sight of the suspects’ vehicle but soon saw smoke coming from the area of the overpass. Police department fatality investigators processed the scene and recovered the knife and the stolen Walmart articles, authorities said. Melancon was also a suspect in a theft that occurred at Lee’s Drive In Friday. The incident remains under investigation. [Source: The Daily Star]