WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WYMT/WSAZ) - Update (7-16-13):
The man charged with hitting and killing a little girl with his car over the weekend has bonded out of jail, but Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputies say he could be facing more charges if an official blood test confirms he had oxycodone in his system.
The Wayne County Magistrate Clerk’s Office and the Western Regional Jail confirmed Brandon M. Cornette, 29, of Inez, Ky., had posted bond and left the jail at 12:35 p.m.
Deputies have charged Cornette with misdemeanor manslaughter -- negligent homicide in the death of Isol Colleen Newsome, 6. Investigators say Cornette was driving a Mazda sedan on Route 52 near Fort Gay and Tolsia High School Saturday evening when he hit and killed Newsome. The accident happened about 7:45 p.m. Deputies said the car belonged to the mother of one of Cornette’s three passengers.
Wayne County Sheriff's Department Capt. Douglas Thompson said deputies on the scene gave Cornette a breathalyzer test because they saw a cooler filled with alcoholic drinks in the backseat of the car. His blood alcohol content was 0.00.
“When you got an accident going on, lot of times, you have people transported to the hospital,” Thompson said. “You can't always do a field sobriety test, situations like that. So if you go to the hospital, that's your only other alternative is to do blood work.”
Thompson noted that preliminary tests showed oxycodone in Cornette’s system, but the department is waiting for official results, which would be obtained through a subpoena. If the tests confirm drugs or alcohol in Cornette’s system, Thompson said further charges of DUI causing death would be possible.
According to the criminal complaint, Cornette told Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies that the little girl stepped out into the road and he wasn’t able to come to a stop before hitting her. Deputies said there were no tire marks consistent with the car braking.
Witnesses told deputies that Cornette didn’t stop the vehicle immediately after hitting Newsome.
“She was hit, and it thrown her about five or six foot,” Taylor York, a neighbor, said. “The car pulled over, stopped. The guy got out of the car. I took off running to stop the car – it was me that stopped the car. If it wasn't for me, the car wouldn't have stopped.”
Newsome was pronounced dead at Three Rivers Medical Center Saturday night.
Witnesses told deputies that Cornette was speeding and ran off the right side of the road before hitting the little girl. The victim's father says that Cornette was off the road about a foot when he hit her.
Deputies say that a witness moved the little girl's shoe after she was hit. They say that because of this, they cannot determine whether the little girl was hit in the road, or off the road.
The Sheriff’s Office says the car had minor damage to the front bumper, hood and headlight on the passenger side. The car, which is registered in West Virginia, is being held as evidence.
Cornette has a prior record in Martin County, Ky., where he lives. The Martin County Clerk’s Office said Cornette was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence in 2004, but the charge was reduced to reckless driving. The clerk’s office said he was also convicted in 2006 for misdemeanor public intoxication. In both cases, the clerk’s office said, he paid a fine but did not serve any time.
If Cornette is charged with and convicted of driving under the influence of a controlled substance causing death, the penalty is two to 10 years in prison plus $1,000 to $3,000 in fines. The penalty for manslaughter – negligent homicide is up to one year in prison plus $100 to $1,000 in fines.
There is no word yet on when Cornette will appear in court to face his charges.
Original Story (7-15-13):
A young man is behind bars after deputies say he was intoxicated when he hit and killed a six-year-old girl with his car near Fort Gay on Saturday.
According to the criminal complaint, Brandon Cornette, 29, has been charged with negligent homicide and DUI causing death.
Taylor York, a neighbor, said he was sitting on his front porch Saturday evening and that Isol Colleen Newsom was waiting to cross Route 52 near Lost Creek Road with her father and brothers.
"She made it to about, I don't know, the edge of the blacktop here, and her daddy was right behind her," York said. "Then the car just come over and hit her, and after that, everything went downhill from there."
York said he tried to warn the driver just before it happened, but it was too late.
"She was hit, and it thrown her about five or six foot," York said. "The car pulled over, stopped. The guy got out of the car. I took off running to stop the car - it was me that stopped the car. If it wasn't for me, the car wouldn't have stopped."
York and other neighbors said everyone rushed in to try and help in the half hour before the ambulance arrived.
"Basically the whole neighborhood was out here," York said. "We had my mom and my neighbor here trying to help, doing CPR. We had the dad trying to help, we had me blocking traffic, stopping traffic. We had my buddy, my neighbor stopping traffic. We had all kinds of people doing everything we could to help."
Still, the neighbors said Newsom's injuries were very bad. She later died.
"To see a little six-year-old girl get hit like that, that's pretty heartbreaking," York said. "It just hurts really bad to see any six-year-old girl hit like that."
Wayne County Sheriff's Deputies are investigating this incident. They said Sunday they would not comment on the situation.
Cornette remains in the Western Regional Jail with a bond set at $25,000.