TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Law enforcement officials tracked down a woman wanted for reckless homicide after allegedly killing her passenger in a violent single-vehicle crash in southern Whitley County Wednesday.
According to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Donnetta D. Bell, 22, of Williamsburg, had an arrest warrant issued after she fled from the scene of the wreck.
Chief Deputy Kenny “KY” Fuson said Wednesday night that Bell was living with another man at 66 Little Wolf Creek Road. According to JailTracker records, she has been arrested five times — twice for leaving the scene of an accident and failing to render aid or assistance.
Fuson said at the crash site that the driver, Bell, in a Mercury Grand Marquis, was northbound on U.S. 25E about five miles from the state line between Williamsburg and Jellico, Tenn. in the Saxton community.
Fuson explained that witnesses said the driver attempted to pass slower-moving vehicles in a short passing area along the highway.
“For whatever reason, whether a car was coming or (the driver) was running out of room, (the driver) gunned it, and started fishtailing,” he said.
The Mercury left the roadway, travelled through several feet of grass, and sent the passenger side of the car into a pine tree, angled toward the roof.
The car then slid down an embankment, where it came to rest out of sight from the road. Witnesses said they saw someone get into a vehicle and flee the area.
The passenger in the vehicle, 45-year-old John E. Faulkner, of Duff, Tenn., was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Andy Croley.
He said that when checking with weather officials, at the time of the crash, approximately 10:30 a.m., “rain was not a factor and the roads should have been dry.”
However, crews from the Emlyn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and the Pleasant View Fire and Rescue Department were forced to work in rainy conditions while they used chainsaws to remove trees and brush away from the vehicle.
Once the vehicle was dragged by chain back into the grassy area and ready for the tow truck, that’s when extrication crews could get Faulkner removed from the vehicle. Both doors on the passenger side had to be removed, as well as lifting a section of the roof. Faulkner was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
The road was blocked for more than an hour while crews secured the scene and reconstructed the crash.
Sgt. Dave Lennon was first dispatched to the scene, and was assisted by the fire departments as well as Whitley County EMS, the Kentucky State Police and the Williamsburg Police Department.
Besides reckless homicide, the sheriff’s department said Bell will likely also be charged with failure to render aid or assistance and leaving the scene of an accident.
Bell was eventually located at the Jellico Community Hospital where she would be arrested.