A New Orleans police officer is in grave condition after being struck by a suspected drunk driver on Interstate 10 early Sunday morning (June 5), New Orleans Police Department Chief Michael Harrison said.
Hunter was taken to the hospital where she remains in critical condition in an unresponsive state.
Officer Natasha Hunter, 31, was parked in the shoulder of I-10 eastbound near Esplanade Avenue to help another officer investigate a multi-vehicle crash around 2:30 a.m., Harrison said.
A passing driver veered to the right and struck Hunter’s vehicle as she sat inside. Hunter has a severe brain injury and is currently “non-responsive” at a local hospital, Harrison said.
“We would ask the entire community to pray for our officer…she belongs to the entire community,” Harrison said.
Hunter, a 12-year veteran in the First District, is the mother of a 5-year-old. Hunter has sisters who are also in law enforcement.
Harrison said the lights of Hunter’s Ford Explorer were turned on, and flares were also marking the area on the highway. Her role was to protect another officer investigating the crash ahead.
The driver who struck Hunter is in custody while at a local hospital, he said. The man had the smell of alcohol on his breath and later admitted to drinking that night, he said. Police said the driver will be arrested after being released from the hospital.
Harrison said he expects the driver to be booked on negligent vehicular injury.
“This hurts because here is a great officer, a great person, doing her job in going to help another officer, and then becomes a victim of someone’s bad choices,” Harrison said.
Officer Hunter succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
The driver of the vehicle that struck her was taken into custody and charged with first-degree vehicular negligent injuring and reckless operation.