Melville, Louisiana incumbent mayor dies in crash on Election Day

In 2018, Velma Hendrix was elected Melville’s mayor after winning 70% of the vote.

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The incumbent mayor of a small Louisiana town died in a car crash on Election Day. 

Melville Mayor Velma Hendrix, 84, was the passenger in a 2008 Acura RDX that was involved in a two-vehicle wreck, The Advocate reports. According to the Louisiana State Police, the incident occurred Tuesday after 11 a.m. on Highway 190 near Highway 741 when the driver of a pickup truck that was headed south failed to yield while crossing both westbound lanes of Highway 190, according to WAFB 9

Police tape is stretched across a street. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The pickup truck hit the passenger side of the Acura where Hendrix was sitting. She was not wearing a seat belt and suffered severe injuries. The mayor was transported to a local hospital in critical condition where she later died.

The driver of the Acura was wearing a seat belt and also suffered moderate to severe injuries along with three other passengers. It’s unclear whether the other individuals were wearing seat belts. 

Michael Cook, the driver of the truck, was not wearing a seat belt and reportedly did not sustain any injuries. According to the LSP, Cook showed no signs of intoxication and was cited for failure to yield at a stop sign and not wearing a seat belt. 

Hendrix was running for reelection against challengers Sheila Londerno and Caretta Robertson in Tuesday’s election. She died hours before polls closed on Nov. 8.

In 2018, Hendrix was elected Melville’s mayor after winning 70% of the vote. The longtime St. Landry Parish resident previously served on the town’s board of alderman, The Advocate reports.

Following news of her death, the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court said qualifying for mayoral candidates will reopen on Wednesday, Nov. 9, until Monday, Nov. 14. The election for the mayor of Melville is slated to take place on Dec. 10.

“In the case of no one else qualifying before Monday, November 14, 2022, the candidates from November 8, 2022 with the highest votes will be declared Mayor of Melville,” the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court said in a statement shared on social media.

According to the Louisiana Commissioner of Elections, Londerno secured 182 of 353 votes, so if no one else qualifies before Nov. 14, she will be declared mayor of Melville, WAFB 9 reports.

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