By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
One man was killed after his northbound 2000 Ford Explorer crossed the median on I-75 and crashed into two southbound tractor-trailers Monday afternoon.
According to Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley, the driver was Tyler L. Armacost, 27, of Franklin, Ind.
The crash occurred near mile marker 4 in the southbound lanes of I-75, which were totally closed for some time, then the passing lane was opened for traffic to filter through. Traffic was backed up for several hours from the crash.
Kentucky State Police Trooper First Class Don Trosper said after sliding through the median, Armacost first struck a 2013 Peterbilt tractor-trailer, driven for Sunset Logistics.
That truck was driven by Glen Prouty, of Galesburg, Mich., who said he watched helplessly as the driver went out of control off the northbound lanes.
“He went through the median,” Prouty said, adding that at the moment of impact, the rear trailer wheels came completely detached from the truck.
That sent the trailer sliding toward the right side of the road, where it came to rest in the ditch, while the tractor stayed in the emergency lane. Several chunks of asphalt were dragged along the lane while Prouty worked to maintain control.
The full rear set of trailer tires ended up upside-down in the middle of the regular lane.
Prouty said emergency crews at the scene “were all wondering” how he managed not to overturn his truck — and so was he.
Prouty was uninjured, but according to Trosper was transported to Jellico Hospital as a precaution.
After the crash with Prouty’s truck, the Explorer “spun around into” the path of a 2007 International tractor-trailer, driven by 42-year-old Donald E. Adcock, of Pittsburg, Tenn.
The Explorer was struck broadside by the second truck, according to Trosper.
Armacost’s vehicle came to rest in the ditch of the southbound lane, against the embankment.
Although Armacost was wearing his seat belt, the force of the crash caused the belt to break, ejecting him several feet from the vehicle into the emergency lane, according to Trosper.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Croley.
Trosper said Armacost “is suspected to have been driving impaired by drugs.”
In a press release, Croley stated that “the possibility of drugs or alcohol will be determined in a routine toxicology,” which Croley will complete.
KSP Trooper Dewayne Foley leads the investigation.
South Whitley County Volunteer Fire Department, other officers with KSP, officers with the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, deputies with the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department and Whitley County EMS all assisted at the scene.