TWO teen cheerleaders have died after a cop ran a red light at 86mph, and struck their vehicle during a high-speed chase.
Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, were killed while Dunn’s brother, Liam was injured when Addis police officer, David Cauthron, 42, smashed into their car on Saturday.
Cauthron, who was in pursuit of a car thief, was going about 86 miles per hour and didn’t hit his brakes before the crash, according to his GPS, WBRZ reports.
Harrowing crash photos show police surrounding a crushed, twisted silver car after the collision.
The cop ran a red light that had been red for about 20 seconds when his vehicle reached the intersection in Brusly, Louisiana, witnesses say.
Cauthron’s vehicle then hit the victims’ car causing it to drift into the median of Louisiana Highway 1, the outlet reports.
Dunn and Gill died at the scene and Dunn’s brother – who is a freshman at the University of Louisiana Lafayette – was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“For these kids to not to have been able to start the New Year is inexcusable, but we’ll follow the facts first,” District Attorney Tony Clayton told The Advocate.
“I just can’t put my arms around why [the officer] was driving at that rate of speed in pursuit of this vehicle. This officer is facing some serious issues.”
He added: “If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit.
“It’s just not worth the risk,” said Clayton.
Dunn and Gill were cheerleaders at Brusly High School.
On Sunday, the cheerleading team put out a statement on Facebook.
It read: “As we mourn the tragic deaths of Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill please keep their families, friends, and the BHS community in your thoughts and prayers.
“Their enthusiasm and bright smiles will be missed more than can be imagined.”
Cauthron was pursing suspect Tyquel Zanders, 24, who allegedly stole his father’s Nissan Altima.
Zanders is accused of entering a home in Baton Rouge, pushing his father down, taking the keys, and fleeing with the car, according to documents obtained by The Advocate.
The police chased after Zanders, speeding through East and West Baton Rouge parishes, after they tried to pull the suspect over during a traffic stop.
Zanders allegedly ran several red lights and reached speeds of 110mph, according to documents obtained by KSLA.
The suspect was eventually caught on Interstate 10 after his car stalled, according to documents obtained by The Advocate.
“He put the chain of events into play,” Clayton told The Advocate.
“He’s responsible for all the reactions to his actions. He’s facing two counts, and if that poor kid doesn’t survive, he’ll face another.”
Cauthron was fairly new to Addis Police, joining the department in February 2022. He previously worked at the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office.
He is currently on administrative leave, according to Clayton.
“That cop has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence,” Clayton said on Sunday.
“The public can rest assured, we will follow the facts.”
Cauthron was arrested and booked on Sunday night. He faces two counts of negligent homicide and one count of negligent injuring.
He is currently being held on a $100,00 bond and Clayton reportedly plans to convene a grand jury to look into Cauthron’s actions, at the end of the month.
Zanders is in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, home invasion, auto theft, and aggravated flight.
He was also accused of a second recent car theft, spokesperson sergeant L’Jean McKneely Jr. told The Advocate.
“He is facing well over 100 years in prison and we plan to fully prosecute him,” Clayton told KSLA.