State lawmaker killed in traffic crash

State Rep. Larry Belcher, a Shepherdsville Democrat, was killed in a traffic accident Monday night.

The crash occurred a little after 6 p.m. CDT on Interstate 65 half a mile north of mile marker 43 in Edmonson County, a Kentucky State Police Trooper Todd Holder said.

It appeared Belcher's northbound white Ford F-150 pickup truck ran into the back of a tractor-trailer that had stopped for construction ahead, Holder said. Belcher was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tractor-trailer driver, Mary Wasson, of Texas, was not hurt, Holder said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Charlie Hoffman of Georgetown said he received word of the fatal crash shortly after 9 p.m. from a state police officer on the scene of the accident.

"We just feel we have lost one of our family members and a very beloved and a compassionate person that everyone respected," Hoffman said Monday night. "Larry Belcher was a very conscientious legislator who had a very level-headed approach to the legislative process."

Belcher, 61, a former teacher and principal in Bullitt County, was seeking his second consecutive term in the state House in the Nov. 4 election. He served in the House from 1998 to 2002 before running unsuccessfully in 2002 for the state Senate. Belcher won the 49th House District seat back in 2006.

Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, a Lexington Democrat, said it was a "terrible, terrible, tragic loss to the General Assembly."

"He was just a fine man," said Palumbo. "He was a very solid member and because of his background in education, he really cared about teachers and young people and knew the importance of young people getting an education."

Palumbo also praised Belcher for his work, along with Republican Sen. Gary Tapp of Shelbyville, to try to attract an electric-car company to build a plant in Kentucky. The company, ZAP, initially looked at land in Belcher's area of Bullitt County before settling on an area in Simpson County.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether Belcher suffered a medical problem that could have contributed to the crash, Holder said. Alcohol is not thought to be a factor in the crash, the trooper said.