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Two killed in Hwy 53 crash

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Recent OCHS graduate among dead, La Grange resident seriously injuried in weekend accident

By Kenny Colston

Two teens were killed and another person has serious injuries after being involved in a crash at the intersection of Highway 53 and Old Sligo Road over the weekend.

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Ben Clifford, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Oldham County High School, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Haley OKelley, a 19-year-old Indiana resident.

The two teens were passengers with Brianna Zambrzycki, a 2013 graduate of Buckner Alternative High School, who was transported to University Hospital in Louisville with serious injuries, according to Oldham County Police.

According to police, a truck on Highway 53 hit Zambrzycki’s car on Saturday around 4:30 p.m. Of the five passengers in the truck, all from Pleasureville, no serious injuries occurred, police said.

The driver of the truck was Michael Baker, 29, while Stephanie Noel, 24, was a passenger. Three other children were passengers in the vehicle, police said.

Police have not determined the cause of the accident, which remains under investigation.

By Monday, a small memorial at the scene of the accident had popped up for Clifford and OKelley.

As word of the accident spread over the weekend, several Oldham County residents said the intersection of Old Sligo Road and Highway 53 had become too dangerous and was in need of traffic changes.

Donnie Vertress, a La Grange resident, said he had narrowly missed being in a similar accident weeks ago. He suggested lowering the speed limit on Highway 53 from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour until a driver is past Old Sligo Road.

“There’s no sense in doing 55 miles here,” he said. “We both know if it says 55, people are going to do 65. I think if they reduce the speed it’ll help.”

Vertress, who travels the intersection multiple times a day, took note of the accident at the crash scene on Monday. He said he was nearly struck pulling out of Old Sligo Road onto Highway 53 himself, because northbound traffic from Highway 53 usually drives too fast and is obscured coming up the hill, Vertress said.

And if something doesn’t change, he predicted others would be injured as well.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else was killed in this intersection by the end of the year,” he said.

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.