VHS student dies in wreck on I-20 near Tallulah

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2002

[05/28/02]A 16-year-old Vicksburg High School student died when the car in which she was a passenger swerved onto the shoulder of Interstate 20 and into a parked tractor-trailer Monday near Tallulah.

Three other people in the car and the trucker, who was standing on the shoulder near his truck, were injured, Louisiana State Police Sgt. J.C. Neil said.

The student who was killed was identified as Charlene Cotton, 16. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cotton of Tanglewood Drive.

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Johnnie Elmore, 45, 1301 Highland, No. 9, Ruston, La., was by his truck when he was hit, Neil said. Elmore was in the Critical Care Unit at River Region Medical Center this morning in serious but stable condition, spokes-man Diane Gawronski said.

Steven Kelly, 17, 1 Oak Hill Drive, who was driving the car, and passengers Melissa Jennings, 17, and Michael Clark, all of Vicksburg, were also injured. Kelly was in stable condition this morning in Madison Parish Hospital, a hospital spokesman said, and Jennings was in stable condition at River Region, Gawronski said. Addresses for Jennings and Clark were not available.

Vicksburg High Principal Don Taylor said Jennings just finished her sophomore year and Clark, his freshman year, and Kelly was a former student at the school.

“The Vicksburg High School family expresses our grief and sorrow to Charlene Cotton’s family,” Taylor said.

Kelly was cited for careless driving. His car, a 1994 Nissan Maxima, was traveling east on I-20 in Madison Parish when it struck the 1988 Freightliner, investigators said.

State Police Sgt. Keith Thompson said a blood sample was taken from Kelly, but driving while intoxicated was not suspected.

Glenwood Funeral Home was handling arrangements.

The Associated Press provided some information used in this report.