An 84-year-old Lousiana mayor running for reelection was killed in a car crash on Tuesday (November 8), just hours before the polls closed, ABC News reports.
According to Lousiana State Police, Melville Mayor Velma Hendrix was in the backseat of a car with four others when the vehicle was hit by a pickup truck that didn't yield at an intersection. In critical condition, Hendrix, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was transported to a local hospital, where she "ultimately succumbed to her injuries," police said.
The other passengers sustained moderate and critical injuries. The driver of the pickup truck, identified as Michael Cook, wasn't injured, police said he didn't have alcohol in his system or any "signs of impairment."
The crash is still under investigation.
Hendrix was first elected as mayor of Melville, the "Catfish Capital of Louisiana," in 2018. She was running for reelection against Sheila “Sam” Londerno and Caretta Robertson.
Following Hendrix's death, the St. Landry Parish Clerk issued a statement on the election process moving forward.
“In regards to Mayor Velma D. Hendrix, Mayor of Melville's untimely passing, the Louisiana Commissioner of Elections, Sherri Hadskey, has informed us of the protocol for Mayor of Melville. Qualifying will be reopened on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 until Monday, November 14, 2022 and the election for Mayor of Melville will be held on December 10, 2022,” St. Landry Parish Clerk said. “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. Prayers and condolences to Mayor Hendrix's family and friends.”
It is unclear if Hendrix would've won her reelection bid, according to election results on the state website.
Jayme Johnson, a member of Melville's board of aldermen, shared photos of her and Hendrix on Facebook in commemoration of her death, per CBS News.
"Life has continued to show me that you can be gone in the blink of an eye," Johnson wrote on social media Wednesday (November 9). "Melville lost a wonderful soul yesterday."
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