ST. MARTINVILLE – More than a year after the death of Madison Welch in a car accident on Interstate 10, the victim’s mother, Jennifer Young, is suing the company behind the television reality show Duck Dynasty, as well as the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
Filed in St. Martin Parish, the suit claims that an 18-wheeler driven "by agents, employees and/or licensees of Duck Commander Inc." cut Welch's vehicle off and forced her off the road.
Welch died in November 2014, after flipping her truck over the median near Breaux Bridge on the way back to Zachary, Louisiana, from a hunting trip. At the time of the incident, she was on the phone with a friend, who heard Welch exclaim something about a nearby truck and then silence. The friend immediately called Young to tell her of the frightening conversation she had with her daughter. Soon after, Welch’s family was notified of the incident.
William Kirksey, one of the first people on the scene, told local media outlets that he saw the accident happen. He noted that two 18-wheelers were exiting the freeway at the same time as Welch, one behind the other, and that one of them swerved into Welch’s lane.
Welch, who was thrown from her Toyota Tacoma, was transported to Lafayette General Medical Center where she later died.
Now, Young and her husband are looking for answers to questions concerning what may have really happened: whether Welch lost control of the vehicle, or if she was forced off the road by one of the 18-wheelers on a poorly designed highway.
When the couple asked if the Beaux Bridge Police Department could acquire data from a nearby weigh station that could have information on information on any 18-wheelers traveling on the interstate that night, Sgt. Robert Maw informed them that the data was no longer available. Though Maw claimed he went to retrieve the data from the weigh station, there is no evidence of his visit in the case file, according to local media reports.
“At the time, Sgt. Maw said that he had gone to the station, and if he told me that he did, then I believe him," Rollie Cantu, the current Beaux Bridge police chief, recently told the Louisiana Record.
Asked about the missing details in the case file, Cantu said, "(Maw) said maybe he had just forgot or something."
Young and her husband have also seen surveillance video taken from the Pioneer Acadian Village Campground, across from where the accident occurred. Although the video showed two 18-wheelers drive pass just before the accident, it's unclear how Welch's family came to the conclusion that a Duck Commander vehicle was involved.
“I have seen the (campground) video, and I’m not sure," Cantu said. "I don’t really know how they came to that conclusion."
Cantu previously noted that there is no evidence that Welch’s truck ever made contact with another vehicle. There also has been little said about whether Welch’s phone conversation with her friend had anything to do with the accident.
“I can’t say for sure, but the police may have gone to her phone and seen when the last call was made, taken it and seen the last call to see if she was on the phone, but like I said, that is just a guess,” Cantu said.