Officials are unsure what caused an armored truck accident late Wednesday morning near the Whitley-McCreary County line that claimed the life of the driver.
“Obviously it has been raining so wet conditions could be a factor, but we just don’t know at this time,” said Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Steven Douglas about what may have made the vehicle go off the roadway.
The crash happened shortly after 11 a.m. off Highway 92W between Jellico Creek Road and about one mile from the McCreary County line.
Douglas said that the Garda 2007 Ford armored truck was travelling west towards McCreary County when the vehicle went off the left hand side of the road, went down about a 10-12 foot embankment and struck a large tree coming to rest on the passenger’s side of the vehicle
“We quickly discovered that there was actually one person deceased and another person that had to be transported to the hospital,” Douglas said about what first responders discovered when they reached the accident scene.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley pronounced the armored truck driver, John E. Adkins, 59, of Versailles, dead at the scene.
Initially the driver was alert after the accident happened, but he later passed away at the accident scene. He suffered massive head injuries, and the cause of death is being listed as multiple injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, Croley said.
A passenger in the armored truck, Hiram Nieves, 25, of Nicholasville, sustained pretty severe injuries to his lower extremities, Douglas said.
Whitley County EMS treated the Nieves at the scene, and transported him to the Williamsburg-Whitley County Airport where a PHI emergency medical helicopter landed.
Goldbug Volunteer Fire Chief Brandon Woods said that the patient was transported to the airport because the helicopter had to use specialized equipment due to weather conditions and limited visibility. Woods was unsure what hospital the patient was flown to.
Neither the driver nor the passenger were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, Douglas said.
“This vehicle is built to be durable and tough. It is made of armor, but again it just goes to show you that seatbelt usage is very important in any type of vehicle while traveling on Kentucky roadways,” he added.
It took firefighters from Goldbug, Pine Knot and South McCreary volunteer fire departments about 45 minutes to extricate the passenger and the body of the driver from the vehicle.
“It is an armored vehicle that transports money to various locations across the state. It made today a little bit challenging. This isn’t your typical commercial vehicle or normal passenger vehicle. This is an actual armored vehicle. It made the extrication a little bit more challenging,” Douglas noted.
Goldbug firefighter Dorman Patrick Jr., who is also treasurer for the board of directors, noted that this was an unusual event and the first time that he had ever responded to an accident involving an armored truck.
“It created some problems when we arrived on the scene. We had to do some improvising to be able to achieve our task today,” Patrick said. “I have seen quite a few in my career. This was definitely one of the top five most difficult extrications that I have been involved in.”
Firefighters and rescue workers used the spreaders and cutters from the Jaws of Life to remove the front windshield of the vehicle, in order to gain access to it.
One occupant was taken out through the front window, and the other through the back of the armored truck. They were then put into a Stokes basket and brought up the steep embankment, Patrick said.
The armored truck was the only vehicle involved in the accident.
Douglas said the vehicle was going west on Highway 92 from the direction of Williamsburg towards McCreary County, but that he didn’t know where exactly the vehicle was coming from or going to.
CVE Officer Jason Freeman is investigating the crash. CVE Officer John Bledsoe and members of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department also assisted at the scene.
“All the responders came together and accomplished one task today. It was a task that took all of us working together to get the job done,” Patrick added.
No autopsy will be performed on the driver, but a toxicology test will be done, which is a routine procedure in the event of a fatal accident, Croley noted.
No drug or alcohol involvement is suspected, Douglas said.