The 16-year-old driver of an SUV in which five members of the Michael and Trudi Hardman family were killed Wednesday night has been cited for careless operation of a vehicle, according to Michael Reichardt, with the Louisiana State Police.
He said early Friday afternoon the misdemeanor charge is something that is typical in a vehicle wreck investigation.
“We’re still looking at the investigation and don’t really have anything new at this time,” Reichardt said.
Eight people were in the 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe at the time of the wreck and six — all who were not wearing seatbelts at the time — were ejected. Reichardt said three of the couple’s children died in the crash and three other children were hospitalized.
The wreck was reported to Louisiana officials at 10:46 p.m. Wednesday night as the vehicle veered off of Interstate 20 as the family was headed east to Disney World for a vacation.
“Two of the children were treated and released from the hospital here,” Reichardt said. “The third child remains in a Shreveport hospital in critical condition.”
Reichardt said the driver, Andrew Hardman, 16, was one of those treated and released.
Michael Hardman was a second grade teacher at Terrell’s JFK Elementary School while his wife was a kindergarten teacher in Wills Point ISD. Michael Hardman formerly taught at Wills Point.
Reichardt said Louisiana State Police they responded to the Wednesday night wreck on Interstate 20 west of Calhoun and near Monroe.
He said the investigation indicated Andrew Hardman fell asleep at the SUV veered off I-20. He then overcorrected and the vehicle rolled over, Reichardt said.
Three of their children, Kaci, 4, Adam, 7, and Dakota, 15, were also killed in the wreck.
The Wills Point ISD officials said the district’s superintendent and athletic director headed to Louisiana on Thursday to be with the family. The high school principal said there will be a memorial after Thanksgiving.
Terrell ISD Superintendent Micheal French said the district’s staff was shocked by the news.
"Today, our Tiger family grieves the tragic loss of one of our team members, Michael Hardman, who was dedicated to his second grade students at J. F. Kennedy Elementary School," French said on Thursday. "His surviving family members, colleagues, students and friends are in our thoughts and prayers. We must lift each other up during this difficult time."
TISD officials said Michael Hardman had been with the district since 2013. They also said school district counselors were available to support students and staff.
Wills Point ISD officials also issued a statement regarding the crash.
"Words cannot express the sadness in our hearts today. The Hardman family was in a serious accident in Louisiana last night,” Wills Point officials said Thursday in a prepared statement. “Five family members were lost in the accident and three survived.
“Please keep the family and their friends in your thoughts and prayers. The impact of the tragedy is far reaching and has affected each campus,” officials said. “Also, keep the family of Jami Johnson, another teacher, in your prayers as this has also impacted her family as well with the loss of one son and two others injured.”
Wills Point officials also said counselors were available on each campus for students and staff.