Angie Rodriguez has fond memories of little Shannon Colt Norris, a 3-year-old who was killed in a tragic accident yesterday afternoon.
“He was sweet,” Rodriguez said. “He was just a lovable little kid.”
Shannon, who lived in Burnside, died after an out-of-control vehicle pinned him to the wall of a downtown apartment building. The accident occurred at the Somerplace complex off South Main Street.
Tragically, the vehicle was driven by Shannon’s mother, Brittany Helton, 23, also of Burnside.
“This is not something that’s attached to any criminal element,” said Somerset Police Det. Chris Gates. “This isn't a case where you've got drunk drivers out going around. This is just a tragic, tragic accident.”
Gates said Helton had just returned to the complex and was attempting to park the car when the accident occurred. Witnesses dialed 911 and helped Helton move the car back while waiting for EMS crews to arrive, at which point Shannon was rushed to Lake Cumberland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Pulaski County Deputy Coroner Jim McWhorter said that the cause of death was “massive trauma to the head and upper extremities,” which included a broken neck.
McWhorter said that given the location of the injuries, “I’m assuming (Shannon’s death) was very sudden.”
He added, “There were people on the scene who started doing CPR immediately, but I don’t think he had a chance due to the situation.”
Gates said there was no indication that Helton was under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance during the time of the accident.
Gates said Shannon and his mother were visiting Helton’s sister who lived in one of the apartments. The child was being supervised by many people, and was not left unattended.
“It wasn't as if the child was out playing and nobody saw him,” Gates said. “The mother just came in to park the car, and either the car malfunctioned or something happened with the operation of the vehicle. All that is still under investigation.”
The vehicle has been towed and is now in possession of the Somerset Police Department. The accident reconstruction team is investigating the car to see if a mechanical function was responsible for Helton not being able to stop the vehicle.
Helton herself was treated by Somerset EMS after she collapsed as Shannon was being taken to the hospital via ambulance.
“She’s very upset,” Gates said. “Like any mother would be if this happened. Nobody was doing anything wrong. It’s just, it’s a very tragic accident ... one of those things that we just can’t control.”
Rodriguez, who lives in one of the Somerplace apartments, said she was a longtime friend of Helton and her sister.
Rodriguez said Shannon would sometimes come over and play with other children at the apartment complex. She described Helton and her family as “very good people.”
“He was a gorgeous, beautiful little boy,” Rodriguez said of Shannon.