This incident, including new developments with the additional fatality, will presented to the next possible Letcher County Grand Jury and remains under investigation by Detective Scott Caudill with KSP Post 13.
The preliminary investigation determined that Franklin Travis Helbert, age 37 of Appalachia, VA, was operating a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado northbound on US 119 while pulling a horse trailer. Helbert lost control of the truck which crossed the centerline and continued into the southbound lane where it collided with a 2008 Toyota Yaris, which was driven by 66 year old Judy Kiser of Pikeville. Rainfall and wet road conditions are believed to have contributed to the crash. Kiser, along with two passengers in her vehicle, 90 year old Kathleen Tackett of Belcher and 61 year old Barbara Newsome of Pikeville were transported by Neon Ambulance Service to Whitesburg ARH Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained in the collision. Barbara Newsome died at the hospital. She was pronounced deceased by Letcher County Coroner Renee Campbell. Franklin Helbert refused medical treatment.
Franklin Travis Helbert was charged with DUI 2nd Offense, Manslaughter 2nd Degree, two counts of Assault 1st Degree, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was lodged in the Letcher County Detention Center. Toxicology result for both drivers, which are collected during fatal crash investigations, are pending. Detective Scott Caudill with KSP Post 13 is conducting this investigation and accident reconstruction.