Unusual crash puzzles investigators and frustrates a family


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Chad Darnall

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky.— Investigators with the Marshall County Sheriff's Department are still trying to figure out what happened in a Friday morning car crash involving Graves County Coroner Phillip McClain.

What really complicates the situation is that the coroner was carrying the body of 29-year-old Michael "Bubba" Ward, who died Thursday morning.

McClain was rear ended on the Purchase Parkway.  He was slowing down to make a turn, but investigators aren't so sure. Meanwhile, the Ward family is caught in the middle.

Michael "Bubba" Ward's father describes him as a loving, generous guy with hundreds of friends, but instead of resting in peace after he died, his body was bruised inside the coroner's van during a crash Friday morning. Now, investigators are trying to find out why.

Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars said, "We are looking into several different aspects of the accident, gathering information from various sources to try to determine what actually happened. We do have conflicting stories from actual witnesses or what not."

As with many crash investigations, toxicology reports are out on McClain and the other driver, Roman Bledsoe. Investigators are also going through information downloaded from the car computers that can clue them in to what the drivers were doing seconds before the crash. "It's our job to exhaust all resources until we find out what happened," said Byars.

But because this case is so unusual, Sheriff Byars says it presents some unusual challenges. He commented, "You know, what goes where? What's classified? Was it cargo? Do we consider it as a person, or how do we determine that?"

To the Ward family, Bubba was a person. That's why the sheriff's department is working to bring them closure as fast as they can. Byars said, "We are going to try to finish this up as quickly as possible for that reason. Being respectful to that family... that's part of it. So we're trying to finish that as quickly as we can."

McClain offered no comment on the crash. Sheriff Byars said he could face criminal charges once their investigation wraps. The other driver, Roman Bledsoe, has been released from Marshall County Hospital.