‘A living hell’: Blakeleigh Weems’ parents searching for truth about deadly New Year’s Day crash

WALKER — A tragedy struck the Walker High community as it entered the New Year, leaving two parents still searching for the truth of what happened that night.

New details on deadly crash

Walker senior Blakeleigh Weems was at a traffic light, coming off the exit ramp at I-12 westbound in Denham Springs at Range Ave., less than an hour into 2024.

At the same time, a driver heading north on Range Ave. collided with her car on the driver’s side. The 17-year-old was rushed to a hospital but did not survive. The passenger in that vehicle sustained minor injuries.

The driver of the vehicle that hit the car also suffered minor injuries. The toxicology for that driver and Weems is now back. Denham Springs Police officers met with Weems’ parents and updated them with some details. Her parents shared that information with UWK.

Weems’ blood alcohol concentration that night was 0.0, according to her parents, who received their information from DSPD. Her parents, Nelson Weems and Chasity Johnstone, say that Denham Springs police told them that the other driver’s B.A.C. was .09 when tested nearly three hours after the crash. They also say that police said the driver had THC in his system and that the driver would potentially faces charges of DWI, driving under a suspended license, and no seat belt.

Denham Springs Police initially stated that impairment was believed to be a contributing factor in the crash, but they have not publicly commented on B.A.C. levels, THC levels or possible charges. Police have also not named the driver.

“Many gaps” on what happened

The parents believe there are lingering questions from that night.

“One question for us is why the other driver wasn’t arrested, especially since we have now found out he refused the DWI test and a warrant was issued to do so.”

Police have not confirmed what protocol was taken at the time of the accident. They did tell UWK that the driver did require medical attention “but refused the need for medical transport by ambulance.” They say that the driver was treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Nelson Weems and Johnstone stressed that they haven’t received all the information regarding the crash, and believe some assumptions were incorrectly made.

MORE FROM UNFILTERED WITH KIRAN: Services set for Walker High senior killed in New Year’s crash

“Ultimately, I think they made some assumptions the night of the accident,” Weems said. “They carried that forward through the investigation phase until some of those assumptions were proven incorrect. In this situation, anyone would scrutinize every detail, every ‘why,’ every ‘what-if,’ and it’s challenging because there are many gaps and missing pieces of information.”

“The last month has been a living hell”

The parents said they’ve been seeking the truth to dispel some speculation they’ve heard.

“There’s so much speculation out there that she was drunk and caused the accident that ended her life, but Blakeleigh was a good kid,” Johnstone said. “I want people to remember her that way, not because they thought she was just another kid out drinking and doing irresponsible things. Whether she did or not, it wouldn’t matter. She’s still an amazing child. I just want everyone to know the truth.”

“I just knew my daughter, so I knew that she wasn’t drinking, but you still question kids because, you know, they do things you don’t approve of,” she added. “When they did tell me that she had not been drinking that night, that was a relief for me, and it helps more with the grieving process. I just feel like it might help others to know that also.”

The parents acknowledged the community’s support and kind words about Blakeleigh have been comforting and rewarding, but they described the last month as “joyless” and “a living hell.”

“Anytime we try to do anything that we enjoyed previously, it’s without joy,” Weems said. “We’re just filling the void and filling the time because there’s no joy right now in anything we do.”

“The last month has been a living hell. There’s a void,” Johnstone said. “The days are extremely hard not having her getting ready in her room in the mornings and just not seeing her every day. This is absolutely the longest time I’ve ever been without her. I just feel like there’s a huge void.”

Denham Springs Police tells UWK: “As with all crashes involving death or serious bodily injury, the complete investigation, to include the total reconstruction of the crash, can sometimes be slow. We want to make sure we have all of the details, in our hands, on paper, before any further steps are taken. Once the investigation is 100% complete, we plan to release more information. Our investigators have stayed in contact with the family of the victim and have had conversations weekly since the crash to provide them with as much information as we legally can to this point.”

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