A Virginia man will face manslaughter and assault charges after the horse trailer he was pulling with his truck jackknifed into the path of an oncoming car at Payne Gap.
Franklin Travis Helbert, 37 of Appalachia, Va., was driving north on US 119 North in a 1999 Chevy Silverado, pulling a horse trailer, when he lost control of the truck in heavy rain in the curve north of the Fishpond Lake entrance, and the trailer crossed the centerline. It collided with a 2008 Toyota Yaris driven by Judy Kiser, 66, of Pikeville.
The preliminary investigation determined that rainfall and wet road conditions are believed to have contributed to the crash. However, Helbert was also found to be in possession of a small quantity of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.
Kiser, along with two passengers in her vehicle, 90-year-old Kathleen Tackett of Belcher and 61-yearold Barbara Newsome of Pikeville, were transported by Neon Fire/Rescue to Whitesburg ARH Hospital with what responders believed were “non-lifethreatening injuries.” Barbara Newsome, who was seated in the rear seat and was not wearing a seatbelt, died at the hospital. Helbert refused medical treatment.
Kentucky State Police charged Helbert with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol second offense, second-degree manslaughter, two counts of first-degree assault, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was lodged in the Letcher County Detention Center. Toxicology result for both drivers, which are collected during fatal crash investigations, are pending. Detective Scott Caudill with KSP Post 13 is conducting the investigation and accident reconstruction.