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Louisville Man Decapitated In Freak Accident, Charges Filed

Published: Aug. 31, 2004 at 5:40 PM EDT|Updated: May. 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM EDT
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By Craig Hoffman

(LOUISVILLE, August 31st, 2004, 6:30 p.m.) -- A 21-year-old Georgia man remains jailed on charges of vehicular homicide and DUI after a passenger in his car, Louisville native Francis Daniel Brohm, was killed instantly in a bizarre accident near Marietta, Georgia. As WAVE 3's Craig Hoffman reports, family members of both victims are relying on faith to see them through this ordeal.

Police say 21-year-old John Kemper Hutcherson was driving drunk early Sunday morning when he hit a telephone pole support wire that decapitated Brohm as he leaned out the passenger window. Police say Hutcherson then drove 12 miles to his suburban Atlanta home and slept in his bloody clothes, leaving the headless body in his truck.

A neighbor walking with his baby daughter Sunday morning discovered Brohm's headless corpse in the truck in Hutcherson's driveway and called authorities.

Police said Hutcherson and Brohm -- best friends since they attended Pope High School together -- were drinking at a bar Saturday night and left after Brohm said he felt sick. Brohm had been hanging his head out the passenger seat window when Hutcherson swerved off the road about a mile and a half from the bar.

Officers said Hutcherson appeared remorseful after they found him sleeping inside his home Sunday morning, still covered in blood and visibly inebriated. Police don't think foul play is involved.

Brohm's family believes faith and prayers will get them through this devastating time. "It doesn't all make sense to us now," says Brohm's uncle, Tom Goodin. "It doesn't seem fair at times. I am a firm believer in His will be done."

Goodin says his nephew was full of life, zest, and love. He planned to see him at the family's annual labor day camping outing this weekend. "Even though they moved to Atlanta, they always made a point to come back."

Brohm left Louisville in 1997 when his father took a job in Georgia. But family and friends say his heart was always here. That's why he'll be laid to rest "back home."

Theresa Webb says news of her nephew's death ""breaks my heart -- the only thing, the comfort we can take is that he didn't suffer. But it was such a preventable accident."

Brohm's grandmother, Elizabeth Goodin, says her daughter, Kathy, and Hutcherson's family are very close. "He has got a tough, tough road ahead of him, and his (Hutcherson's) mother, she came over to Kathy -- was hysterical -- and said: 'Kathy, how are we going to get through this?'"

Kathy's response: "Our faith will get us through it."

Brohm spent grades one through eight at St. Bernard's Catholic School, where he was affectionately known as Frankie, a student everyone liked. Although he has been gone several years, his teachers and fellow classmates remember him well. They too are struggling to cope with the devastating news.

"When it's somebody that you know it's almost as if a piece of your heart has been removed," said Cathy Bingham, one of Brohm's former instructors. "That wasn't just some young man -- that was somebody that we knew and loved."

Principal Don Matlock says counselors are on hand for anyone who needs help. "We have people who taught the young man in preschool, all the way up to eighth grade. Many of our families had children in school with him. So it has been a shocking event for everyone."

Ratterman Funeral Home in Buechel is handling arrangements. A service is set for Friday, September 3rd at St. Bartholomew in Louisville, and a memorial will be held September 7th at St. Ann's Church in Marietta, Ga.

Meanwhile, Hutcherson remains jailed in Georgia on a $100,000 bond awaiting additional court appearances.

A scholarship fund has been set up in Brohm's name to benefit students at St. Bernard's. If you'd like to help, send contributions to the Frankie Brohm Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of St. Bernard's Catholic School, 7501 Tangelo Drive, Louisville, Ky. 40228.

Online Reporter: Craig Hoffman

Online Producer: Michael Dever