PRESTONSBURG — At least one person is dead after two vehicles were involved in a head-on collision on Route 114, west of Prestonsburg.
Three people were seriously injured and one was killed in the Tuesday afternoon collision.
Sheriff John K Blackburn said that the collision occurred after his deputies learned of people “stripping” copper on an old strip mine just off Route 114. Blackburn said his deputies chased the perpetrators from the mountain, but lost sight of the vehicle, a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, after it got on to the main road.
“He thought they went down a back road,” Blackburn said of the deputy following the alleged copper thieves.
Once on the road, and traveling at a high rate of speed, police say the alleged thieves were passing vehicles when they crashed head-on into a 2009 Dodge Excaliber traveling west. The driver of the Excaliber, Brenda Montgomery, 63, of Jackson, was later pronounced dead at Highlands Regional Medical Center by Floyd County Coroner Greg Nelson, Blackburn said. A passenger in her car, Elsie Montgomery, was transported to Highlands and airlifted to Cabell Huntington Hospital.Both the driver of the Malibu, James Mace, and his passenger, Jonathan Crider, were also airlifted to Cabell Huntington.
As emergency crews worked to free the men in the Malibu, they first had to remove several spools of copper wire from the vehicle.
Blackburn said one of the men in the Malibu got out and ran after the accident, wading across the creek and hiding in the bushes. The man was quickly found by officers and transported to the hospital.
Two helicopters were summoned to airlift accident victims from Prestonsburg Elementary and Highlands Regional Medical Center.
Police initially thought the wire pulled from the vehicle was connected to a large-scale cable theft at West Prestonsburg last week, which shut down phone and internet services to Prestonsburg shopping centers for five days. After conferring with the AT&T, officers said that the cable was copper wire, and not the fiberoptic cable stolen from West Prestonsburg.