Man pleads guilty in deadly ATV crash

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2023

By JUSTIN STORY, Bowling Green Daily News

BOWLING GREEN — The driver of an ATV that crashed into a Warren County pond in 2021, leading to the death of the passenger, pleaded guilty to criminal charges Tuesday.

McKinley Brown, 25, of Monticello, entered a guilty plea in Warren Circuit Court to charges of second-degree manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (second offense within 10 years).

Brown accepted criminal responsibility for the Jan. 3, 2021, crash that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Hope E. Turner of Bowling Green.

In court on Tuesday, Brown’s attorney, David Broderick, summarized the facts of the case that supported a guilty plea, saying that the crash occurred on private farmland in the county, that Brown operated the ATV, which crashed into a pond and ended up submerged, trapping Turner inside.

A Warren County grand jury initially indicted Brown two years ago on a charge of murder in addition to the DUI count, and the case was scheduled to go to trial in January.

Brown accepted a plea agreement reducing the murder count to second-degree manslaughter.

A 10-year prison sentence is being recommended for Brown as part of the plea agreement, which also calls for him to pay $10,000 in restitution toward funeral expenses and forbids any direct or indirect contact with Turner’s family.

Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kori Beck Bumgarner said in court that she discussed the plea recommendation with Turner’s mother, who agreed to move forward with it.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office investigated the crash after being called out to the scene in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2021, near Eden Road.

According to an arrest citation, a deputy was met at the scene by someone who pointed to the site of the overturned vehicle, and then drove up to a wooded area at the end of the field and followed a trail to the bank of a creek where two ATVs were parked with their lights on.

“I made my way down the water and I ran into McKinley Brown,” Deputy Sam Scarborough said in the citation. “Brown was wet all over and very upset.”

The deputy asked Brown where the overturned ATV was located, and he pointed toward the creek bank, saying he drove the vehicle and that Turner was in the water.

A witness reported that Turner had been underwater for around 15 to 20 minutes and identified Brown as the driver of the ATV.

Empty beer cans were found in the crashed ATV and floating in the water nearby, the arrest citation said.

Brown was taken to The Medical Center, where he gave a statement to law enforcement and provided a blood sample.

Brown will return to court Jan. 30 for sentencing.