A St. Tammany Parish resident of 810 Schley Street in Slidell was arrested by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office on September 8. Demond M. Torregano, 26, was placed in the Washington Parish Jail charged with Possession of Marijuana, Hit and Run, Driving Under Suspension, Driving While Intoxicated With Child Endangerment and Driving Left of Center. Bond has not been set at this time.
At approximately 8:15 p.m. on September 8, a Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy responded to a complaint of residents of Charlie Conerly Road that they had been the victims of a hit and run. According to the residents, they were driving northbound on Highway 440 when their vehicle was struck by another vehicle which then sped away. The residents gave a description of the vehicle and the deputy began a search of the surrounding area.
While traveling southbound on Highway 440, the deputy came upon a sedan that was being driven erratically, crossing the centerline two times and traveling approximately ninety feet in the opposite lane before the deputy was able to get the driver to stop. When the deputy approached the vehicle, he noticed three significant things. First, there was a strong smell of burned marijuana both on Torregano’s person and in the vehicle. Next, there was marijuana in plain view. Finally, there was a one year old child in the vehicle.
The car being driven by Torregano matched the description given by the hit and run victims. When confronted with the allegations, Torregano admitted to striking the other car and admitted to marijuana use. Torregano was arrested and the one year old boy was turned over to a relative who was summoned to the scene.
Torregano failed a roadside sobriety test and was visibly impaired. He was later administered a breathalyzer test which indicated that he had not consumed alcohol. Torregano submitted to a urinalysis which was sent to the crime lab for analysis.
When asked about driving while under the influence of marijuana, Sheriff Randy Seal stated, “Persons driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs are dangerous just the same as persons driving under the influence of alcohol. It only seems logical that his marijuana use not only caused him to crash into another vehicle and flee, but also to disregard the safety of the one year old child in his vehicle. Is marijuana a harmless drug that should be legalized? Absolutely not! This entire incident could have easily ended with tragedy. I am grateful that the occupants of the other vehicle were not injured and that no harm came to the child.”