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Death blamed on pole impact

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A Franklin man who died after jumping or falling from the bed of a pickup truck likely died from injuries he suffered when he hit a utility pole, police said.

Joshua Hewett received fatal chest injuries when his body slammed against a stationary object. Investigators don’t believe his injuries were caused solely by him leaving the truck and landing near the road, Johnson County Coroner Craig Lutz said.

The coroner’s office has not yet determined the cause of Hewett’s chest wounds and won’t until after the pathologist’s report is complete. That report will show what broken bones and other internal injuries Hewett had, Lutz said.

Hewett, 31, was found dead on the side of Greensburg Road less than two feet from a utility pole, according to Maj. Bob Sexton, who oversees the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigations division.

Police are investigating Hewett’s death and have interviewed the two people that had been driving the truck. They also did an accident reconstruction, which showed the truck was not speeding that night, Sexton said.

Hewett died around 4:30 a.m. Aug. 30, around 30 minutes after leaving a Franklin bar with friends Dana McKie and Jeffrey Kern. An autopsy showed his preliminary cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest, and the manner of death is currently considered an accident, Lutz said.

Police said Hewett was riding in the bed of his own pickup south of Franklin and told his friends inside the truck that he was going to jump out, according to a news release from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

McKie, 25, of Franklin, and Kern, 33, of Middleburg, Va., went back to look for Hewett and found him dead near County Road 450E. The speed limit on Greensburg Road is 50 mph, and based on a reconstruction of the accident, investigators believe the truck was driving at or below the speed limit, Sexton said.

Both McKie and Kern were arrested on a charge of operating while intoxicated. Both are cooperating with the sheriff’s office investigation, Sexton said.

Sheriff’s office investigators are collecting and watching video footage from the bars Hewett, McKie and Kern visited Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. Investigators have interviewed McKie, Kern and some of the people at the bars, Sexton said.

DNA evidence taken from the utility pole and from Hewett also can be used to prove whether Hewett hit it, Sexton said.

The case will not be sent to the prosecutor’s office until investigators can look at evidence from the pathology report and blood tests from Hewett’s body and from Kern, he said. McKie’s breath test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.08; but Kern refused the test and the sheriff’s office ordered a blood test, he said.

The prosecutor’s office will decide what, if any, charges to file.

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