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Social posts after pedestrian struck and killed met with outrage

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Posted at 6:49 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 18:49:00-04

VERNON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A 31-year-old man was struck and killed while removing debris from the roadway of US 171 Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Sherell L. Lewis Jr., 31, had stopped his vehicle on the side of the southbound lanes, north of Pickering, around 3:15 p.m. to remove the debris, according to a news release from Louisiana State Police Troop E.

"What it appears at this point is that this man was trying to do a good deed." says Sergeant James Anderson with LSP. "There was debris in the roadway and he didn't want any other motorists to strike it. So he gets out of the vehicle to remove the debris, and he is struck while this is happening." 

Lewis was struck by a 2003 Chevrolet pickup driven by 18-year-old Matthew M. Martin, of Hineston, said Master Trooper Scott Moreau. Lewis was pronounced dead at an Alexandria hospital.

Martin was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured.

Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash is still under investigation.

"It's horrendous." says Lake Charles NAACP President Rev. J.L. Franklin. "Our prayers are with the family, no doubt about that. But what is most devastating is the aftermath of that. The posts."

'The posts' Rev. Franklin referring to is a Snapchat post by Martin and a conversation containing racial language following the crash have been widely shared on social media. Several viewers have sent images of the posts to KPLC. 

The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office has also been contacted numerous times about the posts.

Sheriff Sam Craft said that while the posts were "morally and socially unacceptable, the post did not violate criminal law."

Sheriff Craft: 

“I am appalled at the content of the social media messages that were posted after the incident. This post is unacceptable and has no place in our society. The inflammatory words that were used were morally wrong. I have the utmost confidence in the Louisiana State Police and their ability to thoroughly investigate this incident. I encourage any citizen who has information regarding the accident to contact the Louisiana State Police – Troop E, Alexandria, La. (318) 487-5911”.

Shotoya Lewis-Ayers, Lewis' older sister, says that her brother will be remembered for his smile and his positive attitude towards helping others.

"He would have helped anybody that needed help no matter what. If you were feeling down, he would always make jokes, crack you up, keep you smiling."

Lewis-Ayers says that her brother owned Sonny Boyz Barber and Beauty off of Highway 171. 

"He loved what he did. That includes the barbery and touching people's lives."

KPLC and FOX29 reporter Chandler Watkins is covering this story and will have more on later editions. 

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All right reserved.