By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Police believe a man that was killed Saturday in a single-vehicle accident had just stolen copper from a vacant Richmond factory and fled the scene after a witness called police.
James M. Ward, 40, of McKee, died at 11:17 a.m. after his car ran left the southbound lane of Interstate 75 near mile marker 84 and traveled about 200 feet down an embankment before crashing into a rocky ravine, according to the Kentucky State Police and the Madison County coroner.
Witness statements and the distance the car traveled after leaving the road indicated that speed was a factor in causing the wreck, Coroner Jimmy Cornelison said.
Shortly before the accident, Richmond police responded to a call about a copper theft that had just happened at a vacant factory on South Keeneland Drive, RPD Chief Larry Brock said in a news release.
A contractor hired to clean the property reported when he arrived at the site, he saw a man inside a car parked in the rear of the building, according to Brock.
The contractor saw the car had a large amount of copper in the passenger compartment and the trunk, and when he told the man he was calling the police, the man sped away, Brock said.
The contractor gave police a description of the vehicle and its license plate. The officers determined the copper came from the factory and was valued at $1,000, Brock said.
Shortly after taking the theft report, the officers learned the fatal accident on I-75 involved a vehicle that matched the description of the one seen at the factory. The copper was still in the vehicle, Brock said.
The wreck is under investigation by the KSP.