Bail set at $500k for Benton man charged in fatal car crash

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Bail has been set at $500,000 for a 38-year-old Benton man facing charges in Franklin County court related to the death of an elderly woman in a two-vehicle crash Saturday in West City.

State’s Attorney Evan Owens says 38-year-old Jason Morris is charged with Class 2 felony aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, which caused the death of 86-year-old Kathryn Briley, Class 1 felony failure to report an accident involving death, and two counts Class 4 felony criminal damage to government property.

According to Benton Police Chief Kyle Melvin, around 12:30 Saturday morning, police and firefighters from Benton and West City responded to the crash on Sugar Creek Road north of Walmart.

After arriving on scene, police found one of the vehicles to be fully engulfed by fire.

A preliminary investigation suggests that Briley’s car had stalled in the northbound lane of Sugar Creek Road. Briley’s 15-year-old grandson then got out of the car to investigate the problem.

While doing so, a pickup truck, driven by Morris, was also going north and struck the rear end of Briley’s car at a high rate of speed. The impact caused Briley’s car to burst into flames. Morris reportedly fled prior to police arriving.

Morris was later taken into custody. Briley was pronounced dead at the scene by Franklin County Coroner Marty Leffler. Briley’s grandson was not injured.

The crash remains under investigation.