Trooper indicted for manslaughter in wreck that killed MSU athlete


Kyle M. Lee was indicted by an Oktibbeha County grand jury earlier this month and the single-count indictment for manslaughter - culpable negligence was filed on Jan. 10.

By: 
RYAN PHILLIPS
SDN Editor

A state trooper has been indicted for manslaughter in the fatal 2017 wreck that killed a member of the Mississippi State track team and injured two others.

Kyle M. Lee was indicted by an Oktibbeha County grand jury earlier this month and the single-count indictment for manslaughter - culpable negligence was filed on Jan. 10.

Lee, who was employed with the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol as a patrolman on May 7, 2017, is accused of driving his state-issued 2016 Ford Explorer at speeds up to 99 miles per hour without emergency lights or sirens engaged when the SUV collided with a 2002 Toyota Corolla occupied by three people near the MSU campus. The status of his employment with the Mississippi Highway Patrol is unclear at this time.

Lee’s bond was set at $5,000 and he was released from the Oktibbeha County Jail on Thursday.

MSU track team member Kaelin Kersh was killed in the wreck and two others, Tanequa Alexander and Noel Collier, were injured.

The wreck occurred at the intersection of Highway 182 and Old Mayhew Road at about 1:25 a.m. on May 7, 2017. Previous court documents allege Collier, who was driving the Corolla, left Highway 12 and entered onto Highway 182, where Lee crashed into the driver's side of the vehicle.

In June 2018, the Starkville Daily News reported that Circuit Court Judge Lee Coleman ordered that $500,000 be deposited into the Registry of the Court by or on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety for the survivors of the crash and the Kersh estate.

In that ruling, it states the Mississippi Department of Public Safety is an entity protected under the terms of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The maximum recovery against a governmental entity, or its employee is $500,000 for all parties arising out of the collision in question.

The complaint previously filed by Alexander says the case is against the MDPS for injuries and damages caused by Lee for both traffic offenses and recklessness in operating a patrol vehicle.

In that court document, it says Lee's conduct led to the injury of Alexander and Collier and the death of Kersh.

Noel and Alexander were hospitalized with injuries.

Alexander suffered immediate pain, broken bones, permanent scarring, "horrific" psychological damages or extreme emotional stress and distress.

The damages filed in the initial complaint are as follows: damages for her mental health, physiological and emotional suffering, property damages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, economic damages, loss of consortium and companionship and loss of enjoyment of life.

The fatal wreck also resulted in new legislation aimed at keeping law enforcement in check with respect to their patrol vehicles.

“The Kaelin Kersh Act,” as it was called, was primarily authored by state Rep. Gary Chism, a Columbus Republican, and signed into law last spring by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

The legislation requires law enforcement to engage emergency lights and sirens when going 30 mph above the posted speed limit.

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