Woman, nephew, 2, killed in I-10 high-rise multi-vehicle wreck

A woman and her 2-year-old nephew were killed early Sunday morning when they were struck by a vehicle after their car broke down on the Interstate 10 high-rise bridge in New Orleans East.

The incident happened at about 1:10 a.m. on the westbound lanes of the bridge, according to New Orleans police spokesman Garry Flot.

The woman, 29-year-old Danielle Rhone, was driving with her 7-year-old son, her older sister Kelly Rhone and Kelly Rhone’s two sons, one of whom was 2-year-old Kaedan Boyd, when their dark-colored Chevy Impala had mechanical problems.

Danielle Rhone, Kaedan Boyd and possibly others got out of the vehicle. Sometime afterward, a multiple-car accident ensued, involving a black Chevy Tahoe, a Ford truck, a white Chevy Suburban and possibly other vehicles.

It was unclear exactly what started the chain reaction, but Flot said that at one point the truck smashed into the back of the Suburban.

Danielle Rhone and Boyd were struck by one of the cars, knocking them both over the guardrail, off the bridge and onto the ground.

Rhone died at the scene. Boyd was taken to a hospital and died at 7:11 a.m., according to John Gagliano, lead investigator for the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office.

Police are still unsure which vehicle struck the victims, Flot said.

While the Tahoe and the Ford truck were at the scene of the accident when officers arrived, the driver of the Ford was gone, Flot said. Police were not sure whether he left on foot or was picked up by another vehicle.

Flot said police are still looking for the driver of the white Chevy Suburban, who drove away after the accident. Investigators believe the vehicle has damage to the front passenger side.

The drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Flot said.

He added that police believe other cars involved in the accident also fled the scene.

Amanda Rhone, Danielle Rhone’s sister, said she was devastated by the news that she had lost both her sister and nephew in the tragedy.

“I want justice,” she said.

She said her sister Kelly Rhone suffered a broken leg in the accident and that Danielle Rhone’s son, Johnathan Scott, had scrapes and bruises.

“The saddest thing was when we had to tell him his mother wasn’t coming back,” she said.

The accident was at least the seventh fatal hit-and-run this year in New Orleans and part of a disturbingly common scenario. Over the past three years, 18 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents in the city have fled the scene. That figure towers above the national average of 4 percent.

Sunday’s incident was also the second fatal hit-and-run on the high rise this year. In July, New Orleans police Officer Rodney Thomas was killed when he was sideswiped by a Porsche while attempting to assist a stranded motorist. The driver in that case did not stop. Six people were indicted in August for their alleged involvement in Thomas’ death and an ensuing coverup.

No citations have been issued in connection with Sunday’s accident, which Flot said police are still actively investigating.

Amanda Rhone said her sister, a New Orleans native and graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Central City, was a loving mother who doted on her only son.

She said her family is heartbroken. She’s also stunned that another fatal hit-and-run occurred so close to where Thomas was run down.

“The first thing I thought was that it’s the same old story,” she said. “How many times can this happen? Is everybody who breaks down going to get killed? What can be done so we can stop losing so many lives on the side of the road?”