One man is dead after losing control of his SUV and crashing into NUNU Arts and Cultural Collective in Arnaudville early this morning.
Twenty-three-year-old Dominick S. Roy, of Breaux Bridge, was traveling westbound on Hwy. 93, near Grain Elevator Road, when he failed to negotiate a curve and veered off the left side of the roadway, according to state police. Upon exiting, Roy's SUV struck La Pataterie, a historic building on NUNU's grounds. Both the vehicle and building ignited into flames as a result of the collision.
Troopers responded to the crash at 5:00 a.m.
Impairment is unknown at this time, but a toxicology sample was taken from Roy to be submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. The crash remains under investigation.
George Arnaud, who has been volunteering at NUNU for 8 years, believes the building, which housed thousands of dollars worth of art, ignited quickly.
"It went up fast because it's an old building, and the wood is dry. So, it probably went up, and within a half hour, it was to the ground," said Arnaud.
This isn't the first time NUNU Arts and Cultural Collective suffered a loss. An identical building to La Pataterie burned down in 2011, and the property owner, John Gaiennie, says the historical buildings have weathered their fair share of crashes. "We've had cars running into buildings around here, right and left, over the past 10 years," Gaiennie said.
Gaienne's family has owned the buildings for almost a century.
"Since the very early 1900s, this is when my grandfather first moved over here, my great-grandfather. This is where my mother grew up, so it means a lot; we're very connected," said Gaiennie.
However, Arnaud says NUNU is not defined by their structures, but rather the people and art within them.
"We had some events planned for that building, but we'll do it here or somewhere else, but we'll keep on going. It won't stop us. We'll just keep on going like the energizer bunny," he said.
The Gaienne family and the rest of the NUNU community are offering their condolences to Roy's family.