Mayor Running for Re-Election Dies in Car Crash on Election Day

by Xara Aziz

An 84-year-old woman who spent most of the year running for re-election as mayor in a small Louisiana town was killed in a car accident on Election Day Tuesday.

Velma Hendrix was in the backseat of an automobile when it was hit by a pickup truck that did not yield at an intersection. Three other passengers and a driver were in the car at the time of the accident. Police records show she was not wearing a seatbelt and was taken to a local hospital where she “ultimately succumbed to her injuries.”

There were no other fatalities in the crash although the other passengers suffered injuries. The driver of the pickup truck, Michael Cook, did not have alcohol in his system and had no signs of impairment at the time of the accident. An investigation is ongoing.

Hendrix was running for office in Melville, known as the Catfish Capital of Louisiana. The town, with a population of about 1,000 residents, released a statement indicating that because of the mayor’s passing, “a qualifying period will be reopened through Monday. If nobody other than the current candidates qualify before that time, the candidate who got the highest number of votes on Election Day will be named the town’s next mayor,” according to CBS News. “If someone else puts their hat in the ring, however, a new election will be held on Dec. 10.”

If no other candidates qualify, Sheila Londerno, will be sworn in as the next mayor. According to election results, Londerno got 52% of the votes. Election results do not show how many votes Hendrix’s received and it is unclear if she would have won.

“Life has continued to show me that you can be gone in the blink of an eye,” Jayme Johnson, a member of the town’s board of aldermen, wrote on Facebook. “Melville lost a wonderful soul yesterday.”

“Melville is a place where people raise families, work hard, and know how to have fun,” reads a statement from Hendrix on the town’s website. “I’ve always been proud of our town, and I’m especially proud to serve as the Mayor of such a wonderful place.”  Hendrix was the town’s mayor since 2018 and would regularly attend community events up until her untimely death.

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