Trooper charged in Mississippi crash that killed MSU athlete

Former Mississippi state trooper Kyle Lee, shown in this undated booking photograph released to media by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office in Starkville, Miss., was indicted Jan. 10, 2019, for manslaughter in the fatal 2017 crash that killed a Mississippi State University athlete. The indictment alleges Lee was driving as fast as 99 mph, responding to a call without flashing lights or siren. (The Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department via AP)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A Mississippi state trooper has been indicted on a manslaughter charge in connection with a 2017 crash that killed a former track and field athlete at Mississippi State University.

Local news outlets report Oktibbeha County grand jurors indicted officer Kyle Lee on Jan. 10 on a single count of culpable negligence manslaughter. He was released on $5,000 bail Thursday.

The indictment alleges Lee was driving up to 99 mph (nearly 160 kph) at the time, responding to a call on a dark highway without flashing lights or siren. Authorities said Lee’s SUV hit a Toyota Corolla carrying runner Kaelin Kersh and killing her as the car turned into the path of the officer’s vehicle. Toyota driver Noel Collier and a second passenger, Tanequa Alexander, were hospitalized, but survived.

It’s unclear if Lee has a lawyer who could comment.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Johnny Poulos said Thursday that Lee is on paid leave.

The state agreed last summer to pay a total of $500,000, the most allowed under Mississippi law, to Kersh’s survivors and the two other occupants of the car.

Gov. Phil Bryant last spring signed the Kaelin Kersh Act, which requires emergency vehicles to turn on flashing lights when exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 mph (50 kph).

Kersh was a middle distance runner and sprinter for the Bulldogs from 2014 to 2017. She competed in the distance medley relay and 4 x 400-meter relay. Her father, George Kersh, was a top-ranked 800-meter runner in the 1980s and 1990s, twice narrowly missing qualifying for the Olympics.

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