METNWS-07-01-21 POLICE REPORTS — SUNDAY'S I-24 WRECK_PHOTO

A multi-vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer rig and eight passenger vehicles on Interstate 24 near Exit 3 in Paducah closed the interstate for nearly seven hours on Sunday. A 4-year-old girl from Franklin, Tennessee, was killed. Nine were taken to hospitals.

For the second time in just over a month, a fatal crash has occurred around the Interstate 24 construction zone at the Ohio River bridge.

Paducah police were called at 9:47 a.m. Sunday to the westbound lanes of Interstate 24 near Exit 3.

According to the report from the Paducah Police Department, Narinder Kumar, 32, of Glen Oak, New York, was driving a 2022 KW Dart tractor-trailer rig, owned by KM Georgia Trucking of Johns Creek, Georgia, west on the interstate. When he saw traffic stopped, he was unable to stop in time to avoid the collision.

Kumar’s truck hit the rear of a 2013 Toyota Highlander driven by Michelle Wren, 38, of Franklin, Tennessee, causing it to overturn. Wren was injured, and her 4-year-old daughter, Emery, was pronounced dead a short time later at Baptist Health Paducah by McCracken County Coroner Amanda Melton. Wren’s other two children sustained “possible injuries,” according to the collision report.

Kumar’s truck then proceeded to hit seven other vehicles — a 2020 Toyota Tacoma, driven by William H. Brown, 54, of Murphy, North Carolina; a 2017 Subaru Outback, driven by Frederick B. Kernan, 65, of Rock Island; a 2012 Ford Explorer, driven by Douglas J. Kaeser, 56, of Crystal Lake; a 2014 Ford Escape, driven by Noah T. Spartz, 22, of Goodwin, South Dakota; a 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by Christopher Flach, 25, of West Paducah; a 2013 Ford Explorer, driven by Steven T. Fincutter, 28, of Elkhorn, Wisconsin; and a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse, driven by Gerald Campbell, 50, of Sedalia, Missouri — before coming to rest against the cable barrier in the median.

Kumar was not reported injured. Five of the injured — Brown, Kaeser, Flach, Fincutter and his passenger, Abriel Odling, 28, of Elkhorn — were taken to Mercy Health Lourdes Hospital or Baptist Health Baptist for treatment. Kernan was flown from the scene by helicopter to an out-of-state hospital, where he was listed in stable condition on Monday.

All vehicles, except the Escape, were towed from the scene, Debris littered the interstate for about a quarter mile. The interstate was closed for nearly seven hours.

The Paducah Police Department’s Collision Reconstruction Team and detectives are investigating.

Paducah Police chief Brian Laird said the ongoing construction on the Ohio River bridge is a contributing factor in the area’s collisions.

“We’ve been in contact with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to ask them to assess the area to determine if there are other options regarding the approach to the construction zone,” he said. “It appears lack of attention is the main cause of this and most other collisions. Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention to signage and reduced speed limits.”

Laird expressed his appreciation for all of those who assisted officers Sunday morning, including passers-by and other motorists who helped with the children at the scene, the Paducah and Concord fire departments, McCracken County Emergency Management and the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department.

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