The driver of a SUV involved in an accident in northern Pulaski County which claimed the lives of two Louisville motorcyclists Friday evening was making a short errand in his friend's vehicle when the horrific crash occurred.
Heather Shepherd said she picked up Joshua Newcombe, 27, of Eubank, just a short time before the fatal crash because his car had broken down.
"When we got back to my house, (Joshua) realized he needed to get something for his child," Shepherd said. "Usually, I would transport him myself. But this time I just let him drive my SUV. He lives less than 10 minutes away."
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office, Newcombe was driving the 2004 Mercury SUV westbound on Ky. 1247 near Eubank when he pulled into the path of two motorcycles traveling southbound on U.S. 27.
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office, James R. Burton, 61, of Louisville, Ky., died at the scene. Burton was operating one of the motorcycles.
Michele L. Cahill, 52, of Louisville, Ky., was one of three persons to be airlifted from the scene Friday night. She died as a result of her injuries as well, according to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office. Cahill was a passenger on a second motorcycle involved in the crash.
"It’s one of the worst accidents I’ve seen involving a motorcycle here in quite a while," Capt. Troy McLin, with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office, told WKYT.
Burton was operating a 2014 Harley Davidson. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger on his bike, Drake Burton, 63, of Louisville, Ky., was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Walter W. Hellmueller, 50, of Louisville, Ky., was operating the other motorcycle, a 2007 Harley Davidson. Cahill was his passenger. Both were airlifted from the scene to UK. Cahill died later from her injuries.
Newcombe told deputies he didn't see the two motorcycles as they passed through the intersection, according to a report from WKYT. The driver is cooperating with deputies.
Officials say they see an uptick in crashes involving motorcycles during the summer months and they're urging drivers to take extra precautions while on the road.
"Drivers just need to watch their surroundings and motorcycles, they’re not as visible as regular vehicles, so they need to watch out for motorcyclists," said Capt. McLin.
Shepherd said Newcombe is "devastated" by the crash.
"Joshua will have to live with that for the rest of his life," Shepherd said. "It's a very dangerous intersection and it's hard to see pulling out onto 27 there. It was just a horrible accident."
Shepherd said Newcombe refused treatment Friday night, but was suffering from sore ribs on Saturday.
No charges have been filed at this time.
There was some initial confusion about who owned the vehicle, resulting in the name of a Manchester, Ky., man being identified as the driver. Shepherd told the Commonwealth Journal she owned the SUV.
"I traded cars with him a couple months ago and the SUV just wasn't in my name yet," Shephard explained.
Pulaski County Sheriff's units were assisted at the scene by the Eubank Volunteer Fire Department, Eubank Police Chief Tony Duncan, Pulaski County Deputy Coroner Anthony Gossett and the Pulaski County Hazmat Team.