TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
After a day of searching, the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department now has a woman jailed in connection with the death of a Duff, Tenn., man.
Donnetta D. Bell, 22, of Williamsburg, faces charges of reckless homicide, failure to render aid or assistance and leaving the scene of an accident after a Wednesday morning crash that killed her passenger, 45-year-old John E. Faulkner.
She was located in Tennessee, and now sits in the Whitley County Detention Center under a $250,000 cash bond.
According to Chief Deputy Kenny “KY” Fuson, Bell, driving Faulkner’s Mercury Grand Marquis, was northbound on U.S. 25W 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 road, 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 after the crash they saw someone get into a vehicle and flee the area.
Sheriff Colan Harrell verified that Thursday.
“We know she caught a ride to Jellico,” he said, adding they were at first seeking a Honda. “But we could never run it down — she had to have caught a ride (from the crash site) immediately.”
Somehow, Bell ended up in Tennessee.
“We’re still not clear yet how she got there,” Harrell said. “(We think) it was likely a friend or a relative that picked her up.”
However, injuries from the crash caught up to Bell, according to Harrell.
“She went to a friend’s home there in Jellico,” he said. “While she was there, she just dropped in the floor.”
Harrell said the friend knew Bell was being sought by law enforcement.
“The friend knew she was wanted,” he said. “(The friend) called 911 and reported her location, then called for an ambulance.”
Campbell County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call, and located Bell in treatment at Jellico Community Hospital.
“They met her there at the hospital,” Harrell said.
He added that Bell waived extradition and was brought back to Whitley County Thursday. She was booked into the WCDC just after 2:30 a.m.
Harrell said that while Faulkner was living in Duff, he was a native of Williamsburg. The sheriff added it was unknown why the two were traveling together or where they were planning to go.
Bell’s first court appearance is slated for Aug. 5. She faces charges of reckless homicide, failure to render aid or assistance, and leaving the scene of an accident. She also faces a charge of failure to appear for an unrelated case dating back to 2010. State court records also indicate she was scheduled for a status hearing on the 2010 case in February 2014.
JailTracker records indicate Bell has twice before been arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident and failing to render aid or assistance.