Jessamine coroner identifies five of the six killed in crash on U.S. 27

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2014 

NICHOLASVILLE — The Jessamine County coroner has confirmed the names of five victims from Thursday night's crash, but said he wasn't ready to release the sixth person's name.

Jessamine Coroner Michael Hughes said that Steven Hibbard, 25; Shaila Hibbard, 26; Kylee Jo Hibbard, 3; Alyssa Hibbard, 5; and James Tanner Phillips, 7, died in the wreck. They are all in the same family, he said.

However, Hughes said Friday afternoon that he isn't yet ready to release the name of the sixth victim.

Authorities have said that person is a woman.

Earlier Friday, Sabra Taylor had identified Steven Hibbard and Shaila Hibbard as her son and daughter-in-law and the three youngsters as her grandchildren.

The crash occurred about 9:15 p.m. Thursday when a Mercury Sable station wagon crossed the center line on U.S. 27 in Nicholasville and collided head-on with a Ford minivan.

Five people died in the station wagon, police said. A woman died in the van, and four other people were taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Authorities initially identified the station wagon as a minivan.

Nicholasville police said Friday afternoon that it's still unclear what caused the northbound station wagon to cross the center line of the highway and enter the path of southbound traffic near Short Shun Pike.

Nicholasville police Sgt. Scott Harvey said in a news release just before noon Friday that the department's collision-reconstruction team is trying to determined what caused the station wagon to go out of control.

The station wagon burst into flames after the collision.

Harvey said police had wanted to speak with the driver of a red Ford Mustang who was close to the station wagon when it went out of control. The driver of that Mustang went to the police department voluntarily and answered questions from the collision-reconstruction team.

According to police, the station wagon flipped onto its top, and it was engulfed in flames when emergency crews arrived Thursday night. Two people had been thrown from the station wagon, officers said.

The van did not catch fire, according to police.

The van belonged to the group Refuge for Women, which tries to steer women away from the adult entertainment industry, Harvey told the Associated Press. Four adults in the van were injured, he said.

"This evening has been one of great tragedy for Refuge for Women," the organization said in a post on its Facebook page. "Our guests were involved in an accident as they were traveling back to the house from an activity. One of our precious women has passed away and three are in surgery. We are asking for your prayers."

Taylor said she learned late Thursday that her son and his family were killed.

"It's like a bad dream that I can't wake up from," she said Friday morning by phone from her Garrard County home.

According to police, a number of motorists stopped to offer assistance after the wreck.

"Whoever could help was trying to do what they could, but unfortunately there was just not a whole lot that could have been done for the six," Harvey told the Associated Press on Friday morning. "We're doing everything we can for the four."

Meanwhile, Taylor said she is putting together a fund for her family's funeral expenses at Central Bank in Nicholasville. A candlelight vigil is planned for 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Nicholasville.

"This is your worst nightmare," Harvey said Thursday night after the wreck.

"In my 16 years in law enforcement, it was the worst wreck I've seen," Harvey told the Associated Press.

Police said there were five people in each vehicle.

Authorities said Thursday night that several county coroners were being called in to help with the crash.

The crash kept U.S. 27 closed at the crash site between Edgewood Drive and Short Shun Pike for several hours, with traffic routed through Main Street in Nicholasville. The highway reopened Friday morning.

According to information online, Steven Hibbard originally was from Manchester but was living in Nicholasville. He was a member of the class of 2008 at West Jessamine High School.

Shaila Hibbard was a stay-at-home mom who had attended high school in Rushville, Ind., and had studied nursing at Blue Grass Community and Technical College.

Donations for the family may be brought to the New Hope Fellowship Church in Nicholasville, Taylor said.

Ron Riley, pastor of New Hope Fellowship, said the Hibbards had attended the church of about 120 people for about a year.

Riley said he thought the family had moved to Lexington and might be attending another church there. Riley described Steven Hibbard as "a really nice guy. He was a good man and took care of his family. A good guy to be around."

Asked how he explains such tragedies as this, Riley said, "As I told the family last night, we don't know why these things happen, but we do know that God is in charge. We just leave it in his hands."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.

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