APRIL 9, 2015
by WADE QUEEN
The Kentucky State Police and the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Kentucky State Police are investigating a fatal two-vehicle collision that occurred on U.S. 23 in Johnson County, about three miles north of Paintsville, on Wednesday, April 8, 2014, at approximately 3:36 am.
“The SUV was southbound. The coal truck was northbound, and the impact took place in the northbound lanes,” said Brian Jeffiers, W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue deputy Chief.
Officials with W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue reported that the accident happened around 3:20 that Wednesday morning.
The preliminary investigation indicated that Mr. Danny L. Rice, of Stambaugh, Kentucky, was operating a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer southbound, in northbound lane of travel on U.S. 23.
Mr. James Kern, of Salyersville Kentucky, was operating a 2015 Peterbuilt, traveling northbound, also in the northbound lane of travel on US 23. The Trail Blazer struck the driver’s side of the tractor-trailer combination and came to final rest. There were no other vehicles involved in the collision.
Mr. Rice was pronounced deceased at the scene by Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby.
Mr. Kern declined medical treatment.
All four lanes of U.S. 23 were shutdown in each direction after the crash.
An official with W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue contacted various media outlets that one lane of U.S. 23 was opened to allow alternating north and southbound traffic.
He also said drivers should find an alternate route since the crash was being reconstructed because it involved a commercial vehicle.
All lanes of the highway reopened just after 7:30 a.m.
The collision was investigated by Officer Dennis Hutchinson of the Kentucky State Police, Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement. He was assisted by KSP Sgt. Keith Justice, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the W.R. Castle Volunteer Fire Department, and the Johnson County Coroner.
Investigators are still determining if the morning’s heavy fog was a factor.
Hours later into the day, Danny Rice family was left devastated and stunned over his tragic sudden end of life passing.
Rice’s daughter did not want to speak with TV news reporters on camera, but said in a statement that her father was a loving man who loved his grandchildren and riding his motorcycles. He also worked as a coal miner, she said.
He also cared for his wife while she suffered with melanoma for eleven years, according to his daughter Danette Davis.
Deputy chief Jeffiers did not know Rice personally, but noted that it is always a concern working in fire and rescue.
“Any time an incident like this happens, as soon as we see a Johnson County plate on a vehicle where somebody’s involved, we always wonder and worry about our friends and neighbors,” said Jeffiers.