Sentencing for driver charged in deadly Floyd County wrong-way crash begins

Sentencing for driver charged in deadly Floyd County wrong-way crash begins

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Sentencing began Thursday for the driver charged in a fatal, wrong-way crash in Floyd County.

Police say Taylor Barefoot, 31, was behind the wheel when she crashed head-on into another vehicle on I-265. The March 7, 2020 crash killed 22-year-old Leah Onstott Dunn, 21-year-old Taylor Cole, Cole’s son Braxton and her unborn child.

In March, Barefoot pleaded guilty to three counts of causing death while driving drunk and one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Family from both sides filled the courtroom Thursday for the first day of sentencing.

The state told the court the situation began at a company work party Barefoot attended that night. According to prosecutors, Barefoot was intoxicated and drove home from the party with a blood alcohol concentration three to four times the legal limit.

At one point, Barefoot began traveling the wrong way on Interstate-264, according to police who were dispatched to the 911 call. Before they found Barefoot, she crashed head-on into a Chevy Cavalier, driven by Taylor Cole, who later died at the hospital, prosecutors said.

The state displayed images of the crash to the courtroom, showing the back end of Barefoot’s white Kia propped up on the guard rail and the front half of Cole’s Chevy Cavalier smashed.

Sgt. Matthew Marshall, a trooper with the Indiana State Police was one of the first law enforcement officers to arrive on scene, he testified.

“This was the most horrific accident I’ve ever seen in my 22 years of law enforcement,” Marshall told the court.

During cross examination, Marshall testified to the number of drunk driving accidents in Floyd County.

“Is it fair to say there are a number of drunk drivers?” Barefoot’s defense attorney asked.

“Yes,” Marshall responded.

Before any law enforcement arrived on scene, bystander Matthew Smith was at the crash site, he told the court. According to Smith’s testimony, smoke filled the Chevy Cavalier. He said he heard a child screaming, “Mom,” and opened the back passenger door where he found a 3-year-old.

Smith testified he pulled the child out, who later survived the crash, and tried to console him until police arrived.

Then, the state called Julia Stought to the stand, the EMT who had given medical aid to Barefoot at the scene that night.

Stought testified Barefoot was unsteady on her feet and could not tell her where she was in that moment.

“At one point she asked me to take her back to her apartment like we were best friends,” Stought told the court.

In addition, Stought testified Barefoot had a “severe laceration down to the bone” on her lower left side, which she did not notice during her first examination.

When asked if working the crash had an impact on Stought, she told the court she is now 13 months sober.

Prosecutors called several other law enforcement officers to the stand who testified the results of car data from both vehicles, which determined Barefoot was wearing a seatbelt and Cole was not. According to the car data, witnesses testified Cole pressed her breaks before the crash and was traveling somewhere between 37 to 56 miles per hour before the accident. Neither driver had steered out of the way, according to testimony.

In addition, the state called one of Barefoot’s former coworkers to testify, who told the court he did not notice Barefoot was acting out of the ordinary at the company work party.

According to his testimony, another coworker was trying to reach Barefoot to give her a ride home before the party ended, but he was not able to determine if the coworker ever made contact with Barefoot.

During cross examination, the defense asked the former coworker if he was lying under oath. According to counsel, the coworker had previously told police there was not a work gathering on March 7, 2020. In addition, the coworker did not tell police he drove to the Barefoot home after seeing the crash scene the night of the accident, Barefoot’s attorney said.

Barefoot’s sentencing hearing will continue Friday. A judge is expected to hand down her sentence next week. The state has asked the court to sentence Barefoot to 28 years in prison.

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