Opiates, speed cited in crash that killed 4

Posted at 10:59 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 22:59:13-04

FORT WRIGHT, Ky. -- A driver blamed for a two-car crash that killed four people tested positive for opiates, according to Kenton County Police Chief Spike Jones.

Kenneth J. Hartsock, 48, of Edgewood, was driving down Highland Pike when he crossed the median and hit another car Sept. 1, according to Kenton County police officials.

Hartsock, alone in his car, was killed; all three people in the other car -- Sarah G. Willis, 70, of Bromley; John S. Willis, 79, of Bromley and Gloria J. Roaden, 72, of Ludlow -- died in the crash, too. John and Sarah Willis were husband and wife, and Roaden was Sarah Willis' sister.

It's not clear if Hartsock was on prescription drugs or heroin, Jones said Tuesday, but investigators are fairly confident his ability to drive was impaired.

RELATED: Four killed in crash on Highland Pike

A crash reconstruction team put Hartsock's speed at 81 to 83 mph, Jones said; the other car was going 50 to 53 mph, he said.

Fort Wright Police Chief Daniel Kreinest said witnesses indicated Hartsock wad driving erratically just before the crash.

According to a Fort Wright crash report, less than a month before the fatal collision on Highland Pike, Hartsock passed out while driving on Kyles Lane, just a few blocks away. A witness saw Hartsock's vehicle cross the road, hop the curb and stop after hitting guide wires to a telephone pole.

Hartsock initially was unconscious and had no memory of the crash, according to the report.

He claimed he was on medication, according to the crash report, and he was taken to St. Elizabeth Edgewood. Later, he indicated a doctor told him the medication caused him to pass out, according to the crash report.