Teen killed, 3 hurt in crash
An Elizabeth teenager was killed and three other boys were hurt late Monday afternoon on Harrison Heth Road near Central when a pickup went off the road, hit a tree and burst into flames when it broke apart.
A Milltown man who happened onto the scene apparently saved the life of a 12-year-old passenger.
Harrison County Police Officer Dennis Asher said the driver of the extended cab pickup was killed immediately. He is Douglas Edward Houser Jr., 18, son of Douglas E. Sr. and Belinda Houser of Elizabeth, and a senior at Floyd Central High School. The father is in the U.S. Navy and was aboard a ship off the coast of California.
Police have not released the names of the other three passengers, who are juveniles.
Asher said the 12-year-old and a 16-year-old were flown by STATCARE helicopter to Kosair Children’s Hospital because one of them had suffered burns. Another boy, age 15, the 12-year-old’s brother, was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Louisville.
Scott Dearth of Milltown was driving on Harrison Heth Road just before 5 p.m. on his way to visit his father when two of the wreck victims flagged him down about half a mile east of S.R. 135.
They said they had been in a wreck and two more people were in or near the truck, which was on fire in a sinkhole-type area in the woods behind them. Dearth made his way down the hill through underbrush but could not help the driver in the truck because the cab was on fire.
However, he and one of the passengers, age 15, were able to pull the 12-year-old boy away from the flames. The 12-year-old and his brother had been in the jump seats in the back of the truck. After the wreck, Asher said, they kicked out the back window to escape. The window frame was around the 12-year-old’s waist when Dearth found him.
Dearth eventually picked up the boy and carried him up the hill to the road, where he was treated by a host of Harrison County EMTs, Harrison and Heth township firefighters, police officers and citizens.
After the 12-year-old was stabilized, STATCARE paramedics flew him and another victim, 16, to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. One of them had burns.
Asher said the Rev. Thad Wilson, assistant pastor at Trinity Assembly of God church near Corydon, came upon the scene right before Dearth and called 911.
Asher said the truck, a 1996 Ford Ranger, was heading west at an unsafe speed on Harrison Heth Road, which is curvy and hilly there. Houser came over a hill and missed a sharp left turn and plunged down the hillside and hit a tree nearly head-on in the woods. Asher said the truck rolled over a couple of times and the cab twisted loose from the frame, breaking the fuel line, which probably caused the fire.
Asher said the Louisville medical examiner’s office said Houser died from the initial impact, which was on his side of the truck.
Asher said the 12-year-old has a closed head wound, fractured pelvis, and lacerated spleen. He was listed in serious condition yesterday.
The 15-year-old, the 12-year-old’s brother, had a possible fracture in his right arm. The 16-year-old, flown to Kosair, had a cracked pelvis.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Gehlbach and Royse Funeral Home. Houser is survived by his parents, a sister, Amy Houser of LaPlata, Md., and two grandmothers, Ida Carolyn Haas and Wilma Brown, both of Elizabeth.