Three Harlan troopers with the Kentucky State Police were injured Friday afternoon while trying to apprehend a patient who had walked away from the Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital’s psychiatric center.
The troopers were initially notified that a female had walked off from the psychiatric center wearing a brown shirt and blue jeans. The Harlan post then received a second call from Cumberland Valley Engineering reporting that a white Chevrolet pickup truck had been stolen from behind the business by a female matching that description.
Troopers Jared Boggs, Kenny Abner and Andy Soltess found the truck traveling on U.S. 421 and, unable to make a traffic stop, followed it at low speed for 8 miles to Black Bottom Road in the Loyall community of Harlan County.
As troopers were trying to negotiate with the driver, Rhonda Johnson, 30, of Loyall, struck the driver’s side of Trooper Boggs’ vehicle. The truck dropped off the road, pinning Trooper Abner between the guardrail and truck.
Trooper Andy Soltess was also struck by the truck and sustained minor injuries. Abner was freed by other responding troopers, local agencies and bystanders, but upon doing so KSP Sgt. Jay Perkins was also injured.
All three troopers’ injuries were not life-threatening.
Johnson was arrested and lodged in the Harlan County Detention Center. She is charged with three counts of attempted murder (police officer), theft of a motor vehicle, two counts of criminal mischief first degree, fleeing and evading police first degree (motor vehicle) and operating on a suspended license.