Bianca Halstead, lead singer of the rock band Betty Blowtorch, died Saturday while riding in a speeding car that went out of control on Interstate 10 near New Orleans. Halstead, 36, died around 5:30 a

Bianca Halstead, lead singer of the rock band Betty Blowtorch, died Saturday while riding in a speeding car that went out of control on Interstate 10 near New Orleans. Halstead, 36, died around 5:30 a.m., hours after her Los Angeles-based band finished a show at Howlin' Wolf in the city's downtown.

Louisiana state police said she was riding in a Corvette driven by William McAllister, 33, of Burbank, Ill. Witnesses estimated McAllister's speed at more than 100 mph, and he apparently had been drinking, said Trooper Todd Marchand.

The wreck began when McAllister was changing lanes and sideswiped another car. McAllister's car then went out of control, skipping across a grassy median and into oncoming traffic, police said.

A car driven by Robert Fenkel, 50, of Colorado Springs, Colo., broadsided the Corvette, nearly shearing it in half, police said. Fenkel was hospitalized but his injuries were not described as life threatening.

Charges against McAllister are pending completion of the accident investigation, Marchand said.

Betty Blowtorch had received national exposure, including an appearance in the film "Bubble Boy" this past summer. Before starting the band, Halstead (aka. Bianca Butthole) previously fronted the L.A.-based hardcore punk outfit Butt Trumpet.

The group was scheduled to play Saturday in Houston and wrap its tour supporting Nashville Pussy last night (Dec. 16) in Austin. A New Year's Eve gig in Los Angeles was also on the band's itinerary.


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