Key Points of This Article

  • According to Kentucky State Police’s most recent Traffic Collision Facts Report, nearly 10,000 semi-trailer trucks are involved in collisions across the Bluegrass each year.
  • The devastating injuries or loss of a loved one due to a semi-truck accident creates many family stressors, including overwhelming financial burdens.
  • In 2019, several crashes involving semi-truck tractor-trailers in Kentucky were the result of distracted truck drivers, operators driving too fast for conditions, and preventable load errors caused by improper cargo weights.
  • Even though semi-truck operators are highly trained and insured, many commercial truck drivers can be held liable for a crash and proven at-fault for causing a fatal crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration census of fatal crashes involving 18 wheelers shows common truck driver errors include dangerous lane drifting, driving distracted by in-vehicle technologies, fatigue, and prescription drug impairment. In addition, semi-truck haulers and trucking companies too often ignore regulations designed to minimize dangerous travel in hopes to cut operational costs and ensure scheduled deliveries.

In 2019, Kentucky was home to many deadly crashes involving negligent truckers. Here is an accident snapshot:

Highway 290 in McKee: Kentucky State Police reported two people were killed in crash in Jackson County on KY Highway 290 in McKee. Troopers told local news outlet WTVQ that a 1999 International flatbed truck and trailer, driven by 19-year-old Mackenzie Isaacs, crossed the center line and collided with a 2001 Nissan Frontier, operated by 35-year-old Dustin Tillery. According to the coroner, Dustin Tillery was pronounced dead at the scene. Two of his juvenile passengers, one the son of the deceased man, were airlifted from the scene to the University Kentucky Hospital with serious injuries. The son, Justin Tillery, 13, later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital while the other juvenile passenger is expected to recover.

I-64 in Franklin County: In a case that made it to the Kentucky grand jury, a 45-year-old Michigan truck driver was indicted on murder charges for causing a fatal car crash in September. Jerry Elder Jr. of Flint, Michigan, now faces one count of murder, first-degree and second-degree assault, and two counts of felony wanton endangerment. According to a statement by Kentucky State Police, Elder crashed his fully loaded tractor-trailer into two passenger vehicles because he was distracted by a video playing on his dashboard mounted cellphone. The statement also said Elder failed to slow down while driving through a construction zone on I-64. The preventable crash killed 61-year-old Jeffrey Curtis and left another driver injured.

US-127 in Frankfort: The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reported a crash in Frankfort involving a semi-truck and a car that killed one person. State officials said that their investigation revealed a semi tractor-trailer driven by Mark A. Beckelheimer, 45 of Ohio, exited a local gas station before entering US-127 and blocking several lanes of the highway. A 57-year-old man driving a Honda Accord passenger vehicle was then caught up in a collision with the semi and pronounced dead at the scene by the Franklin County Coroner. The truck driver was arrested and taken into custody by the Kentucky State Police. He has since been charged with:

  • Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle While Out of Service
  • Log Book Violations (three counts)
  • No Kentucky Weight Distance License (KYU)
  • Canceled IFTA license needed to complete the Kentucky Trucking Application
  • No/Expired Registration Plates

I-24 in Lyon County: Traffic closed all lanes on I-24 in Lyon County after a chain-reaction crash involving 12 cars killed a 19-year old driver. Kentucky State Troopers report that the crash happened when a 42-year-old semi-truck driver sped into slowed traffic, was not able to stop in time and hit the rear of the young motorist’s vehicle.

Highway 431 in Beechmont: A Clarksville Street Department worker was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in Beechmont at Riverside Drive and College Street. This accident was a hit-and-run although police say the driver may not have been initially aware that he had struck the pedestrian worker. Kentucky State Police, along with the Clarksville Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, were able to locate the driver and semi-truck involved in the fatal crash. Beechmont is north of Russellville on US Highway 431, about 60 miles northeast of Clarksville in Muhlenberg County.

Highway 80 in Knott County: A crash between a coal truck and another vehicle closed both lanes on Highway 80 in Knott County back in May 2019. Unfortunately, one person was killed in the crash, a 50-year-old man named Danny Kestner of Perry County. Kestner died when the small SUV he was driving crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a loaded 1998 Mack coal truck and caused the fuel tank to set fire. The driver of the coal truck was not injured in the crash and escaped with minor burns.

Supporting Kentucky Families

At Rhoads & Rhoads, our attorneys serve many different roles in accident cases similar to those mentioned in this post. We have been reminded to consider the safety concerns related to the dangers semi-truck drivers pose in our communities and are so very sorry to hear of the losses related to these accidents. We hope for a supportive healing process for the families involved.

Several of the cases mentioned are still under investigation, and many are left to wonder who is responsible for the loss of their loved ones. Kentucky State Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed or been a part of these accidents to contact KSP Headquarters at (502) 782-1800.

Western Kentucky Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers — No Recovery, No Fee 

 With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads represents tractor-trailer accident victims throughout Western Kentucky. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no initial payment required to work with us, and we get paid when we win or settle your case, so there is NO RISK involved.

Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro personal injury attorneys.

 Source: Kentucky State Police. (2019, November 12). KY Collision Analysis. Retrieved from crashinformationky.org

 Also read: What are the 6 Most Dangerous Bridges in Daviess County in Winter?