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Officers strive to keep roads safe
Billy Prater.jpg
Highway Patrol Lt. Billy Prater says maintaining safety on the road is the agency’s No. 1 goal.

There were eight fatalities on Warren County roadways in 2019, one more than the year before.

All the fatalities came during a five-month stretch from June to October. 

Warren County didn’t have its first traffic fatality until June 7, a horrific crash that killed two at the base of Harrison Ferry Mountain. The last deadly accident came Oct. 18 in a single-vehicle crash on Smithville Highway in the Gath area.

“Every trooper I have is out there making traffic stops and looking for DUIs to keep our roads as safe as possible,” said Highway Patrol Lt. Billy Prater. “The wrecks in Warren County were not DUI-related except for one.”

Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Ballew said a crash on Manchester Highway not far from Prater’s BBQ on June 26 is the only fatal wreck where the driver is believed to have been impaired. He said that blood work came back positive for drugs.

Ballew said the Highway Patrol is constantly working on initiatives to reduce crashes.

“Our goal is always to have the number of fatalities at zero,” said Ballew. “We’re always evaluating stats and all the information we have available to determine where to best use our resources.”

Ballew said sometimes a heavy law enforcement presence doesn’t reduce crashes. He pointed to Highway 55 as a road that’s heavily patrolled but also a road with an alarming number of accidents.

“Sometimes it seems like we can put a trooper on every corner and someone will find a way to wreck in between us,” said Ballew.

The local fatalities include a motorcycle rider who slammed into the back of a tractor on Highway 56 in the Irving College area on June 25, and a pedestrian hit while crossing the street in front of Applebee’s on Sept. 27.

Seven of the fatalities came in two months – four in June and three in September.