Driver involved in police chase passes away

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Cause of death to be determined; State police to head investigation

By Molly Haines

An Owen County man has passed away after he sustained injuries following a police pursuit and crash Oct. 22.

Roy D. Austerman, 20, was pronounced dead at 8:47 p.m. Thursday at New Horizons Medical Center in Owenton.

Austerman was injured in a single-vehicle wreck that occurred when he was being pursued by Owenton police after he allegedly ignored directions to pull over.

He sustained multiple injuries from the accident and was flown to University of Kentucky Medical Center for treatment.

Owenton Police Chief Terry Gentry said Austerman had been released from the hospital early last week.

“At this time, we don’t know what the actual cause of death was,” Gentry said. “All we know is that an ambulance was called and they took him to the hospital in which he passed away. Pending the autopsy, we have no further information.”

According to Gentry, the pursuit, which ended when Austerman crashed into the home of Norma Mae Poe, lasted only seconds.

“The police officer on duty saw (Austerman) coming north in the South Main area,” Gentry said. “The officer turned his vehicle around at the intersection of Main and Beck Streets and started to pursue the vehicle. (Austerman) sped up and made a right-hand turn immediately. Within seconds of making that right-hand turn he crashed into the house.”

Gentry said the officer on duty had done nothing wrong during the pursuit.

“All policies were followed during the pursuit,” Gentry said. “Because the pursuit only lasted seconds, there was no time to initiate a stop to the pursuit or to even contact me as a supervisor.”

Gentry said the Kentucky State Police will be conducting a death investigation.

“We need an outside agency to do the investigation,” Gentry said. “They have been contacted and that way it won’t be a conflict of interest.”

Gentry said the on-duty officer was doing his job the way he had been trained and by policy.

“We are deeply saddened by this situation,” Gentry said. “We don’t ever wish for anything like this to happen.”