LEESVILLE, La. — A pickup truck hit and killed a 31-year-old black man who was being a Good Samaritan as he tried to remove dangerous debris from a roadway in a community south of here.
His name was Sherell “Rell” Lewis of Leesville. Tuesday, the day of the accident, was his birthday.
He was a barber who was well known here for his generosity with local youth. His death was devastating.
But what happened next sent shock waves across social media.
Matthew Martin, 18, of Hineston, La. was the driver of the 2003 Chevy truck that hit Lewis on U.S. 171 north of Pickering, according to the Louisiana State Police. The area is about 200 miles northwest of New Orleans.
► June 1: Public reacts on social media, calls for justice for Sherell Lewis Jr.
► May 30: Snapchat post sparks outrage after ‘Good Samaritan’ killed in crash
► May 29: Leesville man removing road debris hit, killed
After the collision, Martin reportedly posted a social media video of his dented truck, using several laughing emojis and the caption, “y’all i just hit a whole guy on the highway.” Police have not confirmed that Martin was behind the posts, but the account was in his name.
When asked what Martin hit, in a Snapchat conversation, he responded:
Martin: Some ni–er
Friend: How did the chevy take it?
Martin: F—ed it up pretty good lol
Friend: It’ll buff out. Did the guy die on impact or what
Martin: No he died otw to the hospital
Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft said his office has been contacted numerous times about the posts. He addressed concerns over social media posts allegedly from Martin.
In a Facebook post, Craft said he was “appalled” by the posts, which contain a racial slur and show a shockingly cavalier attitude about the fatality. But such “morally and socially unacceptable” language does not constitute a crime.
Lewis was pronounced dead at Byrd Regional Hospital in Leesville. Martin was not injured and has not been charged.
Routine toxicology tests are pending. Louisiana State Police are still investigating the crash.
The funeral for Lewis is pending, according to Labby Memorial Funeral Homes in Leesburg. A GoFundMe page created Friday had raised a little more than $300 as of Saturday night and will benefit Lewis’ sister.
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