PRINCETON — Who was driving during a fatal head-on crash on Interstate 77 back in 2017 was a question put before a jury Wednesday when the trial of a Louisiana man charged with DUI causing death got underway.
Nicholas C. Andrepont, currently of Raleigh County, went on trial before Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope. Andrepont was charged with DUI with death after a fatal crash occurred on Sept. 13, 2017 close to mile marker 18 near Camp Creek. The crash occurred when Andrepont allegedly drove his 2011 Jeep Wrangler southbound down the northbound lane of I-77, crashing head-on into a tractor-trailer and striking a pickup truck hauling a trailer.
Investigators with the West Virginia State Police said after the crash that Cody Tyler Kincaid, 27, of Beckley was passenger. Kincaid died in the collision, and several other people had non-life-threatening injuries. Andrepont said he wasn’t driving the Jeep when the crash happened.
The jury heard testimony from Audrey Elkins, no age available, of the Beckley area. Elkins testified while being questioned by Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler that in September 2017, she was working at Southern Exposure in Beckley when a friend of Kincaid’s invited her to a party after work where they continued to drink. She recalled that Kincaid and Andrepont arrived together in a Jeep, but didn’t remember who was driving.
Kincaid, who was intoxicated, later “stormed out” of the home because nobody would let him have his car keys. Elkins and another person drove away to find Kincaid and found him walking down a dark country road without his shoes; he was carrying them because he said they hurt his feet. Kincaid was dropped off at a local Go Mart, and Elkins called her friend’s home and asked that somebody come get him because he was determined to walk home. She did not stay at the store and see who picked him up.
Attorney Joe Harvey, who is representing Andrepont, asked Elkins about a statement she gave to the West Virginia State Police in October 2017. The recorded statement was played for the jury. In it, she said “we smoked a lot of weed...and “Cody (Kincaid) kept trying to tell us he wanted to leave and we said he was too messed up to leave.” Kincaid said he wanted to leave because he had to get to work in Ghent.
Harvey asked if she told the state police that Kincaid was not wearing his shoes that evening. After listening to the recording, she stated that she did not.
In later testimony, a county medical examiner said Kincaid was not wearing shoes at the crash scene. The shoes were found on the Jeep’s passenger side floorboard.
Dr. Metin Savasman of the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office testified that Kincaid had a severe injury on the left side of his head. Savasman said while he could not be certain whether Kincaid was the Jeep’s driver or a passenger, the injuries on his body’s left side were consistent with him being a passenger during the crash. There was no indication of an injury inflicted by the vehicle’s steering wheel.
On cross-examination, Harvey asked Savasman if the Jeep’s airbags, which are designed to keep drivers from hitting steering wheels during a crash, had deployed. Savasman looked at a crash scene photograph and said the airbags were out. He did not know whether Kincaid’s body was ejected from a window or another part of the vehicle.
Sitler followed up his questioning by asking if Kincaid’s injuries were consistent with those a passenger would get during a crash. Savasman said they were consistent.
David Blankenship, an EMT with the Princeton Rescue Squad, said he saw Andrepont when the squad reached the crash scene. Andrepont was bleeding from around his left ear and had what “looked like a puncture wound on the left side in the hip area.” When questioned by Harvey, Blankenship said witnesses told him that they saw Andrepont crawl out the Jeep’s passenger-side window. Andrepont repeatedly said that he wasn’t driving.
Cpl T.A. Varney with the West Virginia State Police Turnpike Detachment testified while being questioned by Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Lynch that he spoke with Andrepont after the crash. Andrepont said Kincaid was the driver. Harvey did not have any questions.
A second trooper who does crash scene reconstructions for the state police, Cpl. C.N. Workman, said he had reconstruction classes in 2006, 2007 and 2014. Harvey asked Workman if he had taken classes in how occupants move inside a vehicle during a collision. Workman replied that he had not.
Workman said after the collision, the Jeep came to rest on its driver’s side. Samples of blood found in the Jeep were sampled for DNA testing. Harvey asked if fingerprints were taken of door handles and other parts of the vehicle. Workman said this was not done.
The trial continues today. Andrepont is currently free on bond. DUI with death carries a possible prison term of three to 15 years and a fine of $1,000 to $3,000.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org