Crime

Witnesses identified Kentucky mayor as driver in hit and run, police say. 15-year-old hurt.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler Herald-Leader

The Somerset mayor cited in the hit and run of a 15-year-old girl said he did not know “anything had happened.”

Mayor Eddie Girdler was cited Sunday for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident and failing to give aid to the girl, who was riding a bike when she was hit in a crosswalk.

Girdler said he insisted on taking a blood test after the accident to show he was not impaired.

The mayor said he did not realize he allegedly hit the girl until he went back to the scene later.

“I had no idea that anything had happened,” he said Monday.

The citations Girdler received are for violations, akin to a speeding ticket.

The accident happened at a downtown Somerset intersection just before 7 p.m. Sunday, according to a citation filed by Kentucky State Police. The citation described the incident as a hit and run.

The girl’s mother drove her to Lake Cumberland Regional Medical Center for treatment, but she was later flown to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Police did not release the girl’s name.

She and two others on bicycles were crossing Mount Vernon Street when she was hit. Witnesses said the traffic light was red, so vehicles approaching the three in the crosswalk were supposed to stop, according to the citation.

Witnesses said the driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe with an official license plate stopped abruptly while approaching the crosswalk, braking so hard that they heard tires screeching, according to the citation.

The SUV made contact with the 15-year-old girl’s hip and the rear tire of the bike, the citation said.

The girl and the other two cyclists left the intersection; the driver of the SUV sat for a few seconds and then left. Witnesses told police it was Girdler, who is running for re-election.

Trooper Matthew Parmley said that as he investigated, Girdler came to the scene and was hanging around.

Girdler told police he went through the intersection at the same time as the cyclists, but but was not aware of hitting anyone.

Girdler acknowledged he “did have to bow up and stop” because his light was red, the citation said.

The citation said Girdler voluntarily consented to a chemical test, conducted at the Somerset hospital. The purpose of the test would be to check whether Girdler was impaired.

State law requires anyone involved in an accident that causes injury or damage to stop and “render reasonable assistance,” including taking someone for treatment if necessary or making arrangements for that.

Girdler told the Herald-Leader he’d been working at City Hall and was on his way to get something to eat.

He acknowledged it was a “close call” with the cyclists, and the girl fell. She and her companions left the intersection without saying anything, so he didn’t know anything had happened, the mayor said.

He went back to the scene after seeing police lights some time later, Girdler said.

Girdler said police told him they did not suspect any drug or alcohol involvement on his part.

State police said the 15-year-old girl’s condition was not available Monday. WKYT reported she was being treated for a liver laceration.

Girdler said in a statement that his “prayers and thoughts are with the person for a speedy recovery.”

The incident happened just up the street from the county attorney’s office and the county judicial building, where there is a fountain people play in.

Girdler was elected mayor in 2006 and has served since 2007. He will face Alan Keck in the November general election in which the two top primary finishers face off. Keck edged Girdler 1,054 votes to 1,025 in the May primary.

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