No charges in crash that killed NKY teen

Posted at 4:00 AM, Nov 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 04:00:18-05

BURLINGTON, Ky. -- After a months-long investigation, no criminal charges are being filed against the teen who lost control of her car on a winding two-lane road, killing her friend in a head-on crash, Boone County sheriff's spokesman Maj. Tom Scheben said Thursday.

Paige Brickler, then 18, was driving a Toyota Camry north along Camp Ernst Road on May 1; Andrew McMullen, then 19, was in the back seat, and Travis Livers Gowdy, then 18, was in the front seat. All were Cooper High School students, and Brickler had just picked up McMullen from his home.

According to crash investigation documents released Thursday, Brickler admitted she was going 60 mph in a 35 mph zone when she crested a hill and lost control, veering into an oncoming SUV.

Skid marks show where Brickler lost control and the Camry went into oncoming traffic. Photo by Boone County Sheriff's Office

An analysis by the sheriff's office found that statement to be true, putting Brickler's speed at 56 mph.

Brickler told a deputy she looked at her speedometer and realized she was going too fast, so she hit her brakes. The investigation found she then overcorrected when she went off the right side of the road. That move sent her into a sideways slide across the double-yellow line and into the path of Philip Hester's Nissan Murano, according to the report.

Hester's SUV hit Brickler's Camry at an angle; the front passenger side of Bricker's Camry suffered the most impact, which is where Livers Gowdy was sitting.

The front passenger side of Brickler's Camry suffered the most impact. Photo by Boone County Sheriff's Office

Livers Gowdy was wearing a seat belt but died of his injuries. McMullen, who wasn't wearing a seat belt,  was thrown 84 feet from the car, but he ultimately survived.

Brickler and Hester also were hurt, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Boone County deputies found the crash can't be blamed on drugs, alcohol, weather or cell phone use; instead, they said, Brickler's excessive speed and lack of experience as a driver were the main reasons for the wreck.

In May, at their son's visitation, Mary and Bronnie Livers Gowdy said they harbor no ill will toward Brickler.

"Paige was his buddy," Mary told reporters. "They were high school kids driving after school, whatever they were doing -- coming home and going to the Y to work out together -- and the accident happened.

"We have to be there for Paige and support her because it's going to be a lot on her to recover. We hope that she's not blaming herself."

"We want everyone else to feel the same way we do (toward Paige)," Bronnie added.