Mayor Running for Re-Election Dies During Early Hours of Election Day

Velma Hendrix, who was running for re-election as mayor of Melville, Louisiana, was killed in a car crash on Election Day, WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge reported Wednesday.

The 84-year-old Hendrix was riding in the back seat of a car that was hit by a driver who did not yield when crossing over the lanes of U.S. 190, the Louisiana State Police said in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening. Her vehicle was traveling westbound on the road.

The post said police were notified of the crash just after 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

State police identified the driver of the Ram pickup truck that struck Hendrix’s vehicle as Michael Cook of Columbia, Louisiana.

“The front of the Ram struck the passenger side of the Acura in the westbound lane of travel. Hendrix was the rear left seat passenger in the Acura. She was unrestrained at the time of the crash and was transported to a local hospital in critical condition where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries,” the Facebook post said.

The driver of Hendrix’s vehicle, who was wearing a seatbelt, and three other passengers were taken to the hospital with “moderate to critical injuries,” state police said.

Cook, who also was not wearing a seatbelt, was uninjured.

Police said he displayed no signs of impairment and a breath test showed no alcohol was in his system. He received citations for failing to yield for a stop sign and not wearing a seat belt, the Facebook post said.

“A routine toxicology sample from the driver of the Acura has been submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis,” the post said. “This crash remains under investigation.”

With Hendrix’s death, the mayoral election for the small town of Melville had to be reconfigured.

She had been in office since 2018 and was being challenged in this race by Sheila “Sam” Londerno and Caretta Robertson, KLFY-TV in Lafayette, Louisiana, reported.

But with the fatal accident, the clerk of St. Landry Parish (in which Melville is located) announced a new election would be held next month, as directed by state Commissioner of Elections Sherri Hadskey.

A qualifying period for mayoral candidates is underway through Monday, with the election to follow 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 clerk’s Facebook post read.

“Prayers and condolences to Mayor Hendrix’s family and friends.”

Hendrix wasn’t included in election results published on the Louisiana secretary of state’s website.

They showed Londerno with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Robertson. Both are running as Democrats.

When Hendrix won the office in the 2018 mayor’s race, she had 70 percent of the vote, according to the Acadiana Advocate.

She had served as an alderman before her time as mayor.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.