HARRODSBURG — It’s been five days since a Mercer County farmer was killed while driving his tractor on U.S. 127, and Harrodsburg police continue to withhold basic information about the crash.
Saying the matter is still under investigation, Officer Jeff Pearce declined on Tuesday to answer most questions about the Friday night collision that took the life of John “Van” Landrum, 52, whose tractor was struck from behind near Stone Oak subdivision.
Pearce, who is the lead investigator, initially refused to release any information on the crash, but under direction from Chief Billy Whitenack, the officer identified the driver of the vehicle that struck Landrum’s tractor as William Phillips, 21, of Boyle County. Pearce declined to release the name of a female passenger in Phillips’ vehicle and said he wasn’t sure if either occupant was injured in the crash.
On Saturday, Mercer County Deputy Coroner Chuck Bugg said the driver of the second vehicle was airlifted from the scene but was unsure of the person’s identity or extent of the injuries.
Bugg also identified Landrum as the victim after Harrodsburg police released a statement saying only that one person died as the result of a two-vehicle collision on U.S. 127.
Kentucky State Police are often called in to respond to fatal crashes but were not involved in Friday’s incident.
Trooper Paul Blanton, spokesman for KSP Post 7 in Richmond, said Tuesday afternoon the crash had not been reported to KSP, which records and reports fatalities from around the state.
After further checking, Blanton said Trooper Eric Taylor was at the accident scene on Monday assisting Harrodsburg police in reconstructing the collision. Pearce acknowledged he conducted an accident reconstruction on Monday but declined to discuss its findings.
Pearce said he had spoken to people who witnessed the crash but would not reveal any information the witnesses shared with police. He also would not release the type of vehicle Phillips was driving.
The crash occurred about 9:10 p.m. and it was dark at the time, Pearce said. Landrum was driving in the right lane of the highway, he said, but did not know if the tractor had its lights on.
Pearce said he did not know if excessive speed or alcohol were suspected of contributing to the crash. As is standard in such crashes, a toxicology was performed on Landrum as part of the autopsy, and Phillips submitted to a blood test, but the results of those tests are not yet available, Pearce said.
Pearce said Tuesday he had not yet completed an accident report showing a diagram of the crash, a narrative of how it occurred, the names of those injured and the extent of the injuries.
Pearce said he would not release any more information on the crash until after his investigation is complete, which he said could take between 10 days and a month.
Pearce told a reporter releasing information about the crash went against his morals.
He also said he promised Phillips’ family he would keep their son’s name out of the media until after his investigation was complete.