By Erica Kearns
A night of fun for eleven young people turned disastrous when the truck they were riding in crashed in the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 7. The group had been out ghost hunting in the Boogerhole area of Rush Fork earlier that evening, before the unthinkable happened. Around 4:00 am on Route 36 in Valley Fork, the Ford F-150 that was carrying the group, six individuals in the cab and five in the back of the pickup, struck a guardrail, careened 130 feet over the hillside and rolled into the creek bed below.
The sound of the crash and the screams of the victims awoke WV Air National Guard Captain Jeremy Mullins. He ran outside to find the truck in front of his home and injured people laying everywhere, as many of the passengers had been ejected from the vehicle. Mullins’ military training kicked in and he quickly started tending to the victims, immobilizing those who were seriously injured while moving others to his porch until emergency personnel arrived to give medical condition.
It was too late for seventeen year old Kara Conley, who had been a passenger in the back of the pickup truck. Kara was thrown from the vehicle during the wreck and had been pinned underneath the vehicle, dying at the scene.
The driver of the truck, 18 year old Isaac Murphy, as well as passengers Andrew Boggs, Cory Barnes, Carter Morton, Corey Mays, Dakota Blankenship, Cory Hill, and Jeramiah Holcomb were all transported to Charleston area hospitals and treated for minor injuries. Codie Moore and Jesse Walls received serious injuries and are both still hospitalized; Walls is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit with severe head trauma and Moore’s internal injuries are beginning to slowly heal.
The community of Clay, WV and Morehead, KY joined together to mourn the loss of Kara Conley. Entering her senior year at Clay High, Kara had grown up in Morehead, KY and still had many friends there. A young, happy, beautiful girl, Kara will be missed by everyone who knew her.
“Kara was beautiful inside and out. She never judged other people and loved you for whoever you were. She was never what people expected her to be. She was a true class clown and goofball. She was a special person and anyone who met her knew that they had met a unique being. She loved her friends, including the ones who she suffered this fate with. We know she’s with them, and so are our prayers. We blame no one, but hope a valuable lesson has been learned from this experience. Words can’t describe how our hearts ache for this loss. She was an incredible daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Our lives are forever changed,” said Kara’s family following the accident.
Hundreds of people attended Kara’s funeral services Saturday, as she was laid to rest alongside her family in Kentucky. “It’s overwhelming, so overwhelming” Conley’s mother, Lee Ann Helvey, said. “I knew she was loved, but she touched so many people in her life.”
The Kara Conley Memorial Fund has been established to provide scholarships in her memory at The Citizens Bank, P.O. Box 1026, Morehead, KY 40351.