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Family of a Jennings man killed in crash speak out after suspect pleads not guilty

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ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) On December 3, 2019, Claude and Cindy McZeal were driving home in their truck when a motor home hit them on Interstate 10 at Welsh.

Claude died at the scene. Cindy was critically injured, but survived.

Since that day, their family has pushed for justice but they say that day still is not here.

“How can this man just walk out and enjoy his life like nothing happened and to go up there and say, ‘Oh, I’m not guilty.’ You’re guilty. You’re guilty, and you should take that sentence,” Claude’s sister-in-law, Cathy Morrow said.

Stephen Simmons, the man police say caused the crash, was arrested Monday and charged with vehicular homicide and negligent operation of a vehicle.

He pleaded not guilty and bonded out of jail.

Claude’s son, Jonathan McZeal, says he’s frustrated it took six months to arrest the driver for the charges.

He says toxicology reports show Simmons had morphine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

“In the midst of all this stuff, Mr. Simmons was living his life however he chose to, and we at the same time had no answers for a lot of things. So I really believe that the processes and systems that were in place are very slow,” McZeal said.

He says he believes the driver should have been arrested and charged months ago, and it’s been agonizing for his family to keep reliving the pain of that day without any kind of closure or justice.

He added, however, that they won’t stop fighting.

“We want to be treated fairly also in this situation and make sure my dad’s life is not in vain. He’s gone but we’re still living through him and making sure the process is going to be followed correctly and that we get justice,” McZeal said to News Ten.

The driver’s trial is now set for November.

The McZeal family says they hope a jury finds Simmons guilty of vehicular homicide as well as negligent operation of a vehicle.

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