Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:44 a.m. on Aug. 17 to reflect that Elder's sentence runs concurrently.
As part of a plea deal, a trucker who caused a 2019 fatality on Interstate 64 because he was watching a video on his dash-mounted cell phone and failed to slow down in a construction zone has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Jerry Elder Jr., of Flint, Michigan, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault, both Class C felonies, and first-degree wanton endangerment, a Class D felony.
He was indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder, a capital offense; first-degree assault, a Class B felony; second-degree assault, a Class C felony; and two counts of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony.
Around 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2019, Elder’s fully loaded tractor-trailer slammed into two vehicles on I-64 near the West Frankfort exit. According to Kentucky State Police, Elder was distracted by a video playing on his cell phone and failed to slow down in a construction zone.
Jeffrey Curtis, 61, of Bedford, who was rear-ended by Elder, was pronounced dead at the scene by Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod. Both the semi tractor-trailer and Curtis’ Jeep Liberty collided with a Ford Explorer being driven by Trina Summers, 61, of Shepherdsville. Elder and Summers were transported to Frankfort Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
Elder, 47, was sentenced to 10 years each for the manslaughter and assault charges and five years for the wanton endangerment charge. Those sentences will run concurrently for a total of 10 years.
He will be eligible for parole after five years.