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Friends won’t be charged in death

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A man and woman won’t be charged in the death of a man who fell out of the bed of a pickup truck and died.

Dana McKie, 25, and Jeffrey Kern, 34, both of Franklin, were in the cab of Joshua Hewett’s truck when Hewett fell out on Greensburg Road south of Franklin. Hewett, 31, of Franklin, died from the impact of the fall.

Kern was driving the truck when Hewett fell, but investigators don’t believe his driving caused Hewett to fall onto the road, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said. He was charged with misdemeanor operating while intoxicated because it was his first drunken-driving offense, Cooper said. No other charges will be filed in the case because investigators believe Hewett’s injuries were self-inflicted, he said.

The investigation has shown that Hewett was vomiting over the side of the truck bed when he struck a mailbox, which caused him to fall out of the moving vehicle, Cooper said. His cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest, Coroner Craig Lutz said.

A blood test showed Kern’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.22 percent, or nearly three times the legal limit for driving, which is 0.08 percent. The maximum punishment Kern could face is one year in jail.

Hewett, Kern and McKie had left a Franklin bar at 4 a.m. Aug. 30, a police report said. Surveillance video footage from the bar shows Kern and McKie getting into the truck, and Hewett falling before he climbed into the bed of the truck, which he owned, the report said.

All three friends had been drinking at bars for several hours and were too drunk to drive legally, Cooper said. A test showed McKie’s blood-alcohol content was 0.08 percent, and Hewett’s was 0.1 percent.

“They were driving Hewett’s truck because he was too intoxicated to do it himself. None of them should’ve been driving,” Cooper said.

The friends hadn’t driven more than a mile and a half away from the bar when Hewett fell out of the truck, he said. When McKie and Kern noticed Hewett wasn’t in the back of the truck anymore, they drove back to look for him.

The two friends called 911 after finding Hewett on the side of the road. They backed up the pickup truck so they could take him to the hospital, Cooper said. Emergency workers arrived before they left.

“This was their friend. They were trying to help,” he said.

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