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2 police officers die in helicopter crash following high-speed chase

Two long-serving members of the Baton Rouge Police Department have died after assisting other officers in a high-speed chase in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, members of Baton Rouge PD began pursuing a suspect driving a 2014 Ford Mustang. The suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Deandre Dwayne Bessye, was attempting to evade police, reaching speeds of up to 135 mph as he crossed into West Baton Rouge Parish and headed northbound up LA 415.

Sgt. David Poirrier, 47, and Cpl. Scotty Canezaro, 38, of BRPD were in a police helicopter helping follow the suspect. At around 2:35 a.m., the pursuit of the suspect was called off.

Unfortunately, Poirrier and Canezaro never returned home from their shift. Shortly after the chase ended, their helicopter crashed to the ground, killing both men. The crash was not discovered until several hours later when a concerned family member ventured out to the crash site after the phone belonging to one of the fallen officers pinged in the area.

“At approximately 10:48 A.M., West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office received a call from one of the officer’s family members who requested us to respond to a rural area between North Winterville Road and Bueche Road,” a report from the sheriff’s office said. “Upon searching this area, deputies located a Baton Rouge Police Department Helicopter that had crashed. Unfortunately, both officers sustain[ed] fatal injuries.”

The Federal Aviation Administration’s preliminary investigation determined that the “aircraft tail rotor struck a tree and crashed inverted in a field.”

The BRPD community is devastated by the loss of Poirrier and Canezaro. Poirrier had served with the force for 17 years and Canezaro for 16.

“Flags have been lowered to half-staff to honor the life and legacy of both officers at Baton Rouge Police Department’s Headquarters, located at 9000 Airline Highway,” a report from BRPD said. “The public is asked to continue to lift the families and loved ones of our fallen officers up in prayer during this very difficult time.”

Law enforcement now wants to hold the high-speed chase suspect responsible for their deaths. Shortly before the crash, the suspect’s Mustang ran out of gas, and he stopped and asked a nearby property owner for a ride to a gas station. After the individual dropped Bessye off at the gas station, he called a friend to pick him up. Deputies from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the area around 3:15 a.m. that morning about an abandoned vehicle, and the deputies determined that the vehicle was the same Mustang that had engaged police on the high-speed chase an hour or so earlier.

Bessye, who was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force, now faces charges from two different law enforcement bodies. The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has charged him with two counts of manslaughter, aggravated flight from an officer, and aggravated obstruction of highway commerce. BRPD is charging Bessye with aggravated flight from an officer and hit and run.

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