Bradley Carroll, son of state senator and former Gov. Julian Carroll, died after his Ford Explorer struck an embankment and caught fire on Leestown Road Sunday, authorities say.
Carroll, 47, was pronounced dead at Frankfort Regional Medical Center, where he was taken after the wreck.
The crash happened around 12:15 p.m. Sunday when Carroll's 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac went out of control on Leestown Road and struck the Versailles Road overpass embankment head on, Sheriff Pat Melton told The State Journal.
“For some unknown reason, he went off the wrong side of the roadway instead of going up the ramp,” Melton said.
The Explorer deflected off the concrete wall and ended up in the westbound lane.
Carroll’s SUV caught fire, and two passersby – Thomas Cruit and Amy Sweat, both of Versailles – pulled Carroll, who was still alive, from the car.
“They did an absolutely incredible job,” Melton said of the two passersby.
“It was a heroic act, pulling someone out of the vehicle. It’s just awesome that they pulled a man from a burning vehicle, and they gave him a chance.”
Carroll’s heart stopped several times during his transport to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, Melton said.
Sen. Julian Carroll, reached by phone today, called his son’s death “devastating” for the close-knit family. Bradley Carroll lived on the family’s farm, Julian Carroll said.
Julian Carroll last saw his son at a family dinner Saturday.
“He ate really well,” Julian Carroll said. “I enjoyed seeing him really gorge himself on some of my hamburgers. They really are not that special, but he really enjoyed his dinner, and we had an opportunity to visit.”
Julian Carroll said he saw the wreckage as he drove home from church.
“It was a shock, and particularly it was a shock because we were returning home from church and actually saw the smoke from the accident,” Julian Carroll said.
“The only thing we can figure out is he must have gotten a telephone call to go down to his rental apartments. He’s got six rentals downtown, and he often gets calls from his renters and he keeps a little toolbox in his car.
“… He was heading in that direction, and that’s the only thing we can figure out. He spent a lot of time working on his (rental properties).”
Will Cotton, of Summerville, S.C., called Bradley Carroll’s death a tragedy. The two grew up together, and Cotton lived two blocks away when Carroll lived in the Governor’s Mansion during his father’s term.
“Being in a situation where your father’s the governor and you’re given a lot of things and you have a lot of things, he was always the type of person who would share everything he had,” Cotton, who last saw Carroll during a trip to Frankfort two weeks ago, told The State Journal by phone today.
“He always felt fortunate and blessed, and Brad was a good friend.”
Family Court Judge Squire Williams first met Carroll in the second grade when his family moved to Frankfort so his father could take office as lieutenant governor.
The boys “became fast friends” and remained that way, eventually moving in together as college roommates.
“He was outgoing, and he was the kind of guy that you just couldn’t say anything bad about,” Williams told The State Journal this morning.
“He was always ready to help, no matter what the task was, and he would come out of the woodwork and just step right in – that was just his nature.”
As they grew older and had their own families, Williams said he and his friend didn’t get to spend as much time together as they would have liked.
“I consider myself to be one of probably hundreds of people who at some point in their life considered Brad to be their best friend,” Williams said. “And they were all right.”
Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement, “Jane and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sen. Carroll's son, Bradley. I understand he was a man of great faith and loved his family deeply.
“We are praying for the entire Carroll family at this difficult time."
The crash remains under investigation by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Coroner Will Harrod says he will perform an autopsy today.
"It's one of those things where we might never know the cause, but we're definitely going to try to figure it out," Melton said.
Carroll worked as a systems consultant from the state Office of Technology.
Carla Hawkins, executive director of application development for the Commonwealth Office of Technology, says her office is mourning the loss of their colleague today.
“He was a wonderful person, and he was well liked and respected,” she said this morning. “It’s amazing the amount of people he has touched with his work and his warm personality during the last 20 or so years that he’s worked here.”
Carroll most recently worked as an analyst for the comprehensive tax system and for the state’s electronic timekeeping system.
“Everyone here is very saddened by what has happened,” Hawkins said. “It’s very much a shock for everyone because we cared for him so much.”
Carroll leaves a wife, two sons, a stepson and a daughter.
He was one of four grown children of Julian Carroll, who served as governor from 1974 to 1979 and now represents Franklin, Anderson and Woodford counties and part of Fayette County as a state senator.
His arrangements are pending at Harrod Brothers Funeral Home.