Crab Orchard teen killed in motorcycle crash

CRAB ORCHARD – A 19-year-old female from Crab Orchard died after a motorcycle collision Wednesday evening near Cedar Creek Lake, according to the Lincoln County Coroner.

Leah Merkel, 19, of Crab Orchard was pronounced dead at the scene at about 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 25 by Coroner Farris Marcum.
“…was traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 150 near Cedar Creek Lake, she (Merkel) was the operator of a motorcycle,” Marcum said.

The passenger, Colin Brown, was the owner of the motorcycle.

“Eyewitnesses stated that she lost control of the motorcycle. They saw him (Brown) try to overcorrect the handlebar and get it straightened up. It did not work and they hit a guardrail,” Marcum said.

Merkel died as a result of injuries from the accident. Brown was transported to Ephraim McDowell Hospital and then on to the University of Kentucky for further medical treatment, Marcum said.

“The motorcycle was his and I think it was the first time she had ever driven the motorcycle with him on it,” he said.

K9 Sgt. Michael Mullins, who is overseeing the investigation, said Merkel and Brown were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash but a helmet was present on the motorcycle.

No drugs or alcohol consumption is suspected.

Mullins said the motorcycle was a 2001 Kawasaki that slid approximately 589 feet after the two riders hit the guard rail and were ejected.

Brown sustained a severe head injury and was in critical condition following the collision, Mullins said.