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Chase turns deadly

Woman dies after crash during high-speed pursuit on I-65

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Alex Slitz/Daily News

Emergency personnel work the scene of a fatal single vehicle accident near the 19mm of Interstate 65 northbound, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Bowling Green, Ky. (Alex Slitz/Daily News)

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A pursuit of a woman in a vehicle that began in Franklin ended Friday with the woman’s death near the 19-mile marker on Interstate 65 in Warren County.

About 11:30 a.m. Friday, Franklin police who were looking for burglary suspects on the south end of Franklin near Exit 6 received a call from Kentucky State Police that a suspicious vehicle was parked in the back of the Wendy’s attached to the Pilot gas station and had been there for about a week, according to Franklin Police Department Chief Todd Holder.

Franklin police Officer Monta Cherry responded to the vehicle, Holder said. The woman in the vehicle would not provide identification and would not show police her hands, according to a release from KSP Post 3.

The woman drove away, and the officer followed her at about 60 mph through Franklin’s streets, Holder said.

The woman turned on different roads in the area and was in the business district. She then drove onto I-65 northbound, going about 66 mph, Holder said. At that time, a Simpson County Sheriff’s Office deputy was heading toward Cherry to provide support.

Cherry reported the estimated speed of the pursuit reached 90 mph around the 7-mile marker northbound and said the woman was driving very recklessly in the emergency lane and could potentially cause a serious accident, Holder said.

A Franklin police supervisor called Cherry off the pursuit at the 8-mile marker after learning that Cherry had no criminal charges on the woman other than the way she was driving, Holder said. 

“Our guys continued the pursuit ... until the supervisor called our officer off because it sounded like it was getting dangerous to the motorists, and we didn’t know what we had at that point,” Holder said. “Each agency has to make their own call.”

Simpson County Sheriff Jere Hopson instructed a deputy to follow at a safe distance not to exceed the speed limit, and that KSP would intercept at the 14-mile marker, Holder said.

Commercial vehicle enforcement then took over the pursuit at speeds up to 90 mph, Holder said.

During the pursuit, state police received calls from people reporting the woman driving recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic and almost running several cars off the road, according to Trooper Jonathan Biven, spokesman for KSP Post 3.

The woman’s vehicle ran off the road in Warren County and overturned at 12:16 p.m. She was thrown from the vehicle, and the Warren County coroner pronounced her dead at the scene.

Trash saturated the area where the vehicle was overturned just before a road sign that said “Bowling Green next 4 exits.” Plastic bags, paper towels, cardboard boxes and a few paperback books were among a host of debris that came out of the vehicle.

A white kennel was in the back of the vehicle, and authorities took an uninjured German shepherd from the scene after the woman had been removed.

An accident reconstructionist arrived on the scene about 2 p.m.

KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb in Frankfort said state police use discretion when deciding how long to pursue someone.

“We’re going to pursue someone for a violation of the law unless it becomes an unsafe pursuit,” Webb said. “There are several different factors considered in the pursuit. The officer is going to weigh the need of the immediate apprehension against the risks involved to the public by the pursuit.”

Webb said state police consider speed, weather, road conditions, time of day, location and amount of traffic when continuing with a pursuit, as well as the capability of the trooper and the vehicle, if the area of the pursuit often has pedestrians and if state police know the offender’s identity.

“Our policy is a guideline for our agency and our training and our operational procedures and how our officers work,” Webb said. “At the same time, it is impossible to develop procedures to cover every possible situation that you could conceive.”

Biven said the woman was not wanted by any police agency for any criminal activity.

The woman’s name isn’t being released pending notification of the family.

— Follow police and crime beat reporter Monica Spees on Twitter at twitter.com/BGDNcrime or visit bgdailynews.com.

6 images

Alex Slitz/Daily News

Emergency personnel work the scene of a fatal single vehicle accident near the 19mm of Interstate 65 northbound, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Bowling Green, Ky. (Alex Slitz/Daily News)

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