Police say 24-year-old Jason Ray Ison was involved in one hit-and-run accident at Premium on Memorial Day before he later wrecked the small pickup truck he was driving at Smoot Creek and fled on foot.
Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Michael Burton said he and Kentucky State Police Detective Randy Combs have "a substantial amount of evidence" placing Ison, of 212 Hancock Drive, Whitesburg, as the driver of a small two-tone pickup truck that was involved in two wrecks in less than 15 minutes on May 26.
Burton said Ison hit the back of a 2000 Ford Focus driven by Glenda Halcomb of Whitesburg at around 8:35 p.m. on Highway 160 near Premium. Burton said Halcomb reported the truck traveling at a speed between 70 and 80 miles per hour.
Burton said Ison continued driving, and that his truck was found in Smoot Creek about 10 to 15 minutes
Witnesses at Smoot Creek reported that Ison was traveling along KY 1811 at a high rate of speed when he lost control and ran into a ditch on the left side of the road before veering back across the road and into Smoot Creek.
Witnesses say Ison got out of truck and covered his face as he began walking up the Smoot Creek road, then began running.
Combs opened an investigation into the Smoot Creek wreck on May 27 after a wallet containing Ison’s driver’s license was found at the scene of the accident by a property owner. Documents indicate the Chevrolet truck is licensed and registered to Nola Caldwell, who is identified in court records as being Ison’s girlfriend.
Letcher County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Bates saw the pickup being hauled on a rollback on May 27 and told Deputy Burton he found the truck that was identified in the hit and run case he was investigating.
Burton said he then talked to Combs about the two incidents. He said paint from the Focus was found on the pickup and vice versa.
"Everything matches," said Burton. "Times match. Descriptions match."
Two warrants have been issued for Ison’s arrest. Burton has charged Ison with five counts of wanton endangerment because five people were traveling in the Focus. They were Halcomb, Scotty Hall, six-year-old Shanntaya Whitaker, Christopher Whitaker, and nine-year-old Christopher David Whitaker, all of Whitesburg. Christopher Whitaker was taken to the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital for treatment.
Ison was also charged with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Combs charged Ison with operating a motor vehicle without a license in connection with the Smoot Creek accident.
Burton is in charge of the investigation.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ison is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 633-2293 or KSP at 606-435-6069.
A Letcher County Grand Jury last month indicted Ison on three criminal charges, including one charge that he began selling hydrocodone, a prescription narcotic, less than a month after his January 22 release from the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook. Ison had been serving a 19-year prison sentence after being convicted in Letcher Circuit Court in the vehicular deaths of his wife, a cousin, and his best friend.
The grand jury also indicted Ison last month on charges of criminal abuse and fourth-degree assault. The indictment charges that on March 20 Ison assaulted Nola Caldwell and criminally abused Caldwell’s child, who is less than 12 years old.
Bond for Ison was set at $20,000 cash after last month’s indictments were returned, but he was released on a lesser property bond on May 20.