Locals affected by motorcycle crashes speak out

Posted at 7:35 PM, May 22, 2023

LAFAYETTE, La. — Recent motorcycle-involved crashes around Acadiana — renewing a conversation about safety this time of year, when with warmer weather the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission expects more motorcycles on the road.

Data from Louisiana State Police as of Monday showed there have been at least 530 total crashes involving motorcycles and related vehicles so far in 2023, 51 of those being from Lafayette Parish alone. Compare that to the entire year of 2022, when reports show troopers investigating 1,582 crashes. At least 120 of those were from Lafayette Parish.

Lafayette native Andrew Leblanc has had a passion for motorcycles all his life, sharing that passion with his son, Nathan. That is, until Nathan was killed in a crash one August evening riding through Duson after leaving his first job at nearby restaurant Cajun Claws.

"My son was killed August 31, 2022, by I call it a negligent driver," Leblanc told KATC. "She admitted to seeing him, was trying to beat him, and hit him almost head-on."

Nathan, just 17 years old, was an honors student at Acadiana High. He would've graduated and received his high school diploma last weekend, according to his father.

"I wish I'd have spent more time with him, unfortunately, me and him both worked," Leblanc said. "We didn't spend much time together."

Now, taking his bike on the road is forever changed for Leblanc. Sadly, he's not the only one who feels this way.

32-year-old Jude Hebert spent 12 years serving in the U.S. Army. Making it out of the service without any injuries, he married his wife Lauren in March of 2020. Just months later in September, his motorcycle was involved in a wreck when a young driver side-swiped him near Southside High School in Youngsville. The crash ripped off his left leg, tore off some of his pinky finger, and shattered his left hand, along with other injuries causing him to buy expensive prosthetics and take medicine for the rest of his life.

"It's a real low blow because I was unstoppable, I used to do a lot," Hebert said. "My wife being the breadwinner now, that's a hard mental toll to deal with, you feel like less of a man, you depend on other people to do things you should be able to do, or want to do yourself."

Moving forward, Hebert has a simple reminder.

"Minutes could mean someone's life. If it's even a doubt in your mind for a split second that you may not have the time, five seconds isn't going to delay your day, wait for someone to pass and let them go."

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