Dec 5, 2012 7:32 PM by Erin Steuber

Family Says Arrest is the First Step on the Road to Healing

A Lafayette man, arrested and accused of killing a woman in a drunk driving accident, has bonded out of jail.

23-year-old Fred Dutton Jr. was originally charged with an OWI, but the charges were upgraded to vehicular homicide after police say toxicology results showed his alcohol level was over the legal limit. He was arrested last night and bonded out this morning.

The crash happened just after 1 o'clock Thanksgiving morning near the intersection of Kaliste Saloom and Rue Louis the 14th.

Dutton is accused of running a red light and causing the accident which killed 22-year-old Rachael Sonnier. There were two other passengers in her car, Rachael's brother who's still recovering from broken bones and her 3-year-old son, who was unharmed.

Rachael Sonnier's mother, Cathy Sonnier, says this is only the beginning of a long process to see that justice is served for her daughter. And that the upgraded charges against Fred Dutton Jr., are helping bring the family some peace.

"The wound is fresh. The wound is still there. It's always gonna be there," said Cathy. "But there are so many little things that are continuing, even now, that just actually continue to deepen that wound. This arrest is actually the first thing that has happened in this, that is actually helping to close that some what for us."

Cathy says, despite the tragedy, there is a lot to be thankful for considering how mangled the car was, it's a miracle anyone survived.

"Alot of people are not aware of this: Her 3-year-old son was in the car that night along with her and her brother," said Cathy. "God and the angels surrounded him in his car seat to save him."
Cathy says Rachael's son, Caiden, is struggling with his mother's loss everyday. And even at his young age, can recount every detail of the accident.

"Devastated is an understatement," said Cathy. "He has moments where he breaks down. He understand that his mother has been taken from him, he wants her back. He sobs 'I miss her,' 'I want her back."

Cathy says this holiday season is all about Rachael, inspiring their lime green and zebra theme. The hardest thing to cope with, she says, is knowing someone's decision to drive drunk led to Rachael's death.

"What would she have been like at 32, or 42, or 52? My mother was 91 when she passed away. So Rachael was looking at a long, long life ahead of her that was unfortunately stolen, and I feel deliberately," said Cathy.

If convicted, Fred Dutton Jr. could face up to 30 years in prison.



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