KERMIT — A two-vehicle collision that occurred at approximately 7 a.m. Friday morning on Rt. 52 in the Kermit community near the Middle Burning Creek exit resulted in the death of both drivers of the trucks involved in the accident.
According to information provided at the scene by officers with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD), members of the Kermit Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) and Mingo County Emergency Services Director Jerrod Fletcher, Donald Hill, age unknown, of Staffordsville, Ky., was the driver of the white Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck traveling north on Rt. 52 that collided head-on with a Chevrolet 2500 service truck operated by Randy Goble, 48, of Kermit.
Preliminary reports speculate that Hill appears to have fallen asleep at the wheel, picking up speed as his vehicle was going down an incline in the road, crossed the center line and struck the service truck that was owned by Lee Sartin Trucking (LST) of East Kermit. Goble had been employed by LST for over 23 years. Judging by the attire worn by Hill, he had just finished the night shift in a mine before beginning his journey toward his home in Johnson County, Ky.
MCSD deputies pointed out visible tire marks on the south-bound lane guard rails that were made by the service truck, in an apparent attempt to avoid colliding with the Colorado pickup that was racing toward him. There were no skid marks or brake marks on the road in the north-bound lane, which supports the theory that Hill may have fallen asleep and did not apply his brakes before the impact occurred.
Both vehicles were barely recognizable due to the severity of the horrific collision, and reports are that the KVFD had to hook a cable to the rear portion of the Chevrolet Colorado while Hook n’ Haul Wrecker Service had to pull from the front in an attempt to stretch the crunched metal, in order for the first responders to have enough space to utilize the jaws of life to remove the top portion of the cab of the truck and extricate the driver.
STAT Ambulance responded to the call but paramedics were not able to save either Hill or Goble. Mingo County Medical Examiner Mike Casey pronounced both victims dead on the scene.
Eric Sartin, one of the owners of LST Trucking and a member of the KVFD, told the Daily News that the loss of his employee felt more like losing a brother, considering the amount of years they had been associated with one another.
“Our hearts are broken,” stated Sartin. “Randy was a great guy and one of the best mechanics we’ve ever had work for us. Whenever we faced a tough job or had problems with repairs, Randy was always our go-to guy.”
“It’s bad enough to get the call to respond to an accident that involves a fatality but it was a horrific experience when I was told it was one of our own. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of both men who lost their lives this morning.”
Donald Matney, one of the owners of the Hook n’ Haul Wrecker Service that removed the Colorado from the scene, commented that he has been in the wrecker business since 1992 and to date, had not seen vehicles damages as badly as these two were. Assistance from a utility service truck had to be acquired to help with pulling the bed of the service truck back onto the road. Debris from the wreckage was scattered approximately 300 feet in both directions, as well as onto the railroad tracks located to the right side of the roadway.
The chief investigator in this case was MCSD Deputy M. Miller, who was assisted by Deputies K. Ball, E. Williams and Cpl. P. Muncy.