Leitchfield, KY (K105 News) -- For the first time, Ken Howlett, the new News Director at K105, experienced what it is like to cover a major news story, as Saturday night two cars were involved in a head-on collision on Hwy-259 just south of Leitchfield. The following is a retelling of Ken's thoughts as he investigated the accident only moments after it occurred.
As the police scanner came alive around 8:45 Saturday night with the first call to Grayson County emergency personnel to respond to a major accident on Hwy-259 just south of Leitchfield, my adrenaline immediately kicked into high gear. I jumped off my couch (where I had been napping), grabbed my scanner and notebook, and took off out the door.
Being new to the Grayson County area, I'm not certain where some streets and highways are located, but I grew up going to Camp Loucon at least one week every summer, and am familiar with the Anneta area, which was the location of the horrible head-on collision. As I started toward the scene, listening closely to the scanner, I gleaned that two small children were involved in the accident. Being the father of three girls under the age of 10, I immediately began to feel a strong sense of sympathy for the youngest victims, as I prayed that the innocent children involved would pull through the tragic event without permanent or life-threatening injuries.
I arrived at the scene of the wreck about 9:00 p.m., and was struck by how illuminated the area was. Emergency red and blue lights lit up the night, telling everyone within eye-shot that a terrible event had just occurred. I was unable to approach closer than about 75 yards from the point of impact, so I backed into a nearby driveway and gathered myself. What should I do?
I'm quickly learning that a fine line exists between gathering facts and interfering with first responders, and sensing my presence would not be welcome if I attempted to inch closer to scene of the accident, I opted to sit in the driveway, listen to scanner traffic, and plot my next move based on what I heard from emergency personnel. Within a minute of making the decision to sit and wait, the call went from the personnel working the scene to Central Dispatch for five LifeNet helicopters. I said to myself, "Five helicopters?!" My heart sank as I naturally thought that helicopters being called in to rush the injured to a far-away hospital is not a good sign for the well-being of the victims of the accident.
About that time, the first ambulance rushed from the scene on its way to Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center with the only adult female involved in the wreck. A few minutes later, surreality set in, as EMS personnel inside the ambulance called ahead to the hospital updating the awaiting emergency room workers of the victim's condition. As EMS was transmitting that 28-year old Stephanie R. Carroll was unresponsive at that time, she awoke and let out a scream of agony that I won't soon forget.
If the severity of the situation had yet to set in, after hearing that poor woman scream, reality became my co-pilot.
Now knowing that five LifeNet helicopters were on the way to Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center, and realizing there wasn't much I could do at the scene, I drove to the hospital to await the arrival of the birds, hoping that I would be able to gather more pertinent facts. As the helicopters arrived, one after the other, the victim's conditions were updated by EMS to properly prepare ER doctors and LifeNet. I learned that the six-year old boy was responsive ... thank God ... and that all three of the adults involved were being air-lifted to the University of Louisville Hospital, with the pre-adolescent victims being rushed to Kosair's Children's Hospital in Louisville.
Not long after I arrived at the hospital, ambulances began pulling up to the Emergency Department, quickly unloading the injured as family and friends watched intently and prayerfully. I kept my distance, not wanting to intrude on what surely was a very difficult and painful scene to behold for the victims relatives. The helicopters came and went. Scurrying the injured to the best medical care available, putting each victim's fate into the hand's of highly skilled Doctors.
After briefly speaking with EMS personnel about the condition of the victims, I decided to re-visit the accident scene in an effort to gain more knowledge about what may have caused the accident, and pinpoint exactly where the collision took place. Additionally, I wanted to clock exactly how far from Leitchfield the accident occurred.
On the drive back to the scene, my mind wondered, pondering the fate of the victims. Thinking to myself the panic that must have been prevalent in the drivers of the vehicles as the two cars barreled toward one another. I wondered if, in the seconds before impact, the children in the vehicle knew that an incredible collision was about to occur. I obviously found it difficult to divorce my emotions from the events that transpired, as a seasoned reporter surely does. But a seasoned reporter I am not.
As I arrived back at the scene of the accident, I was cordially approached by an Anneta volunteer fireman who thoughtfully answered a couple of questions. The scene was still hot with activity, so I decided to drive home and transcribe my two pages of notes, notating what I knew to be facts, and what I knew to be supposition and conjecture.
I finished my work roughly two-and-a-half hours after hearing the police scanner scream with the news of a major accident. As I closed my computer, content that I had done all I could do (as far as my job is concerned), I went downstairs where all three of my children were asleep on the couch and a loveseat. I kissed them all on the forehead, thankful that they are healthy and happy, and hoping such awful carnage would never be visited upon them.
Tragedy Gives Immediate Reasons To Hug Your Kids Tighter - A Column By Ken Howlett
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Tradegy gives immedtate reasons to hug your kids tighter
That was one heck of a story/ reality check.. I hate it for anyone to have an accident but when kids are involved it sends it to a whole different level of heartbreake an despair...
What a great article you have written on this tragic accident. Thank you for your thoughtfulness of all concerned.
Great column Ken!
What a great article
Thank you for the thoughts and concerns along with your writing this article. It had to be hard to do all this and then write, but thankful it does make you feel! So, I thank you!
I want to thank you for your take on the accident. This is very well written and you have stuck to the facts. I work with the public, and of course, I have heard many things, but of course, the majority of what I have heard is hear say. As I listened to the scanner that night, I sat and prayed for those innocent children, and the adults involved. It really makes you want to hold your family a little closer. Love your family and friends today, for tomorrow is never promised.