According to The Advocate, Baton Rouge officer Christopher Manuel, 28, “was driving north in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette shortly after 8 p.m. October 12 on Airline Highway when it struck a Nissan at the intersection at Florline Boulevard that was occupied by four adults and three children.” Officer Manuel, who was off-duty at the time, was reportedly going 94 mph — the speed limit was 50 mph. “The investigation found that the driver of the Nissan was driving south on Airline Highway and attempted to make a left turn onto Florline Boulevard where there was a green light. The Corvette, which also had a green light, struck the passenger side of the Nissan, causing it to roll over, according to the report.” Reportedly, Manuel was not impaired or under the influence during the crash.
Everyone in the Nissan were taken to the hospital. Sadly, a one-year-old baby, Seyaira Stephens, later died. Now, the mother, Brittany Stephens, 20, who was not driving at the time, is being charged with homicide for not properly securing Seyaira in the car seat. The Advocate reports, “Police found that her daughter’s car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted correctly for the child’s height, according to her arrest report. Police said the ‘lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death’ of the child and ‘how gross negligence’ on the mother’s part.’” Police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said Stephens was arrested because she “was the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat.” Allegedly, there were more people riding in the vehicle than seats available.
Officer Manuel, 28, was arrested on February 16 and charged with negligent homicide and speeding. He posted $15,000 bail and was released from jail the same day he was booked. Brittany Stephens posted $3,600 bond and was released from jail February 20, according to online prison records. “East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday his office has not yet determined whether Stephens or Manuel will face charges, but prosecutors ‘will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law.’”
Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Rest in peace, Seyaira Stephens.