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Driver in Fatal Ft. Wright Collision Was in 3 Crashes in 5 Months

One of the drivers involved in a crash last week that left four people dead was also involved in two other crashes in Ft. Wright within five months, The River City News has exclusively learned.

On September 1, two cars collided on Highland Avenue leaving all the passengers dead. Kenneth Hartsock, 48, was alone in his vehicle and was said to have been driving erratically just before the crash, and his vehicle was in the emergency strip and skimmed along the guardrail before abruptly turning left and colliding with another car. Inside that other car were driver Sarah Willis, 70, who was accompanied by her sister, Gloria Roaden, 72, in the passenger seat, and her husband, John Willis, 79, in the back seat. The Willises were from Bromley and Roaden lived in Ludlow. 

Hartock, of Edgewood, had also passed out previously behind the wheel and crashed his vehicle into a pole, according to a police report obtained by The River City News through an open records request. Just three and a half weeks before the fatal collision on Highland Avenue, Hartsock's vehicle crashed into a pole at the intersection of Cumberland Avenue and Kyles Lane. 

A witness told police that while walking he heard Hartsock's car's engine with a high rate of revolutions per minute (RPM) and saw smoke billowing from it as the car started to drift left of center. Hartsock's car then crossed the westbound lane, hopped the curb, and struck the guide wires to a telephone pole, the witness said.

According to the police report, Hartsock was unconscious but still breathing so the Ft. Wright Fire Department started an examination and assisted the driver with his breathing. Hartsock awoke, and according to the police report, did not know where he was, just that he had dropped his wife at work and that he was now in a wrecked vehicle.

Hartsock's wife, the police report states, called police the next day to provide insurance information and said that a doctor determined that her husband had passed out due to medication he was taking.

In April, Hartsock was involved in another collision, albeit a more minor one. According to a second police report obtained by The River City News, Hartock was headed south on Kentucky 17 in the right lane when he rear-ended another vehicle that had been at a complete stop. Hartsock told police that he was distracted by his little dogs as he drove on the morning of April 1.

He was cited by police for driving on a suspended license and for failing to maintain insurance.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher