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Trash truck driver charged after series of I-24 crashes

BY KAT RUSSELL krussell@paducahsun.com

A Calvert City man faces multiple charges in two counties Friday after a multiple-vehicle wreck involving a trash truck left six people injured.

Paducah Police Chief Brandon Barnhill said Dalton Lampley, 23, of Calvert City, was driving a Waste Path trash truck east near mile marker five on Interstate 24 when the vehicle crossed the median into oncoming traffic.

"In the area of the overpass over highway 45, the Waste Path truck collided with, or caused to collide, a total of (seven) passenger vehicles and one semi truck," he said. "It then traveled a short distance (about three miles) from that area before crossing back over the median (around mile marker eight) and back into the eastbound lanes where it continued on toward Calvert City."

Paducah police responded to the area about 12:40 p.m., Barnhill said, and shut down both sides of I-24 to allow emergency vehicles to reach the scene. Barnhill said the interstate was shut down about 90 minutes while the injured were removed and the site was cleared.

Given the extensive damage, Barnhill said the Paducah department focused its resources at the collision site while other agencies went after the trash truck.

"When our first officer got on scene, he realized the severity of the collision, and the amount of vehicles and the amount of people that could possibly need treatment," he said. "So at that point, it took all of our resources there to tend to those matters."

The police chief said six people were transported to Lourdes and Baptist Health Paducah with "significant injuries." The severity of those injuries was not yet known.

Barnhill said, "19 others were involved in the crash as passengers but were not injured." They were transported on city buses to Lourdes hospital, where medical staff had set up a "warming center."

While Paducah officers worked the collision scene and tended to the injured, other local law enforcement agencies, including the McCracken County Sheriff's Office, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and Kentucky State Police, focused on the trash truck, picking up the pursuit near mile marker 16, KSP Trooper Jody Cash said.

The pursuit continued on the interstate until mile marker 25 where the vehicle exited and continued into the Calvert City area. Cash said the pursuit ended near Ky. 1523 and U.S. 62 when the truck drove off the road and crashed.

Lampley was transported to Marshall County Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Once released from the hospital, Cash said, Lampley was arrested and taken to the Marshall County Jail.

He is charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police, first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, driving under the influence, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest in Marshall County.

Barnhill said charges will also be filed in McCracken County.

"At this point our detectives have consulted with the prosecuting attorney and we anticipate charging (Lampley) with multiple counts of first-degree assault, a class B felony," he said.

At this stage of their investigation, Barnhill said there are many unanswered questions as to how and why the incident happened.

"There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle we still have to put together," he said.

In the coming days, Barnhill said, PPD investigators will reconstruct the wreck and continue interviewing witnesses. There is also a question, he said, about whether Lampley is a Waste Path employee.

"At this point, we do not know if he was an employee, if he was authorized to drive that truck or if the truck was stolen," he said.

Given the scale of the incident, the number of vehicles and people involved, Barnhill said things could have been a great deal worse.

"At times in this profession, we get together with other local first response agencies to practice our response efforts for such a large scale incident like this," he said.

"This incident, although there were some injuries, could have been significantly worse, but due to the efforts of these agencies and their staff, the injured got the treatment they needed, the passengers got the help they needed and the site was cleared relatively quickly given the size of what happened."

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