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UPDATE: Donnie Robinson's Son and 4 Others Killed in Kentucky Crash

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 12/28/12
WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ/WKYT) -- It was a crash that killed the son and daughter-in-law of former major league pitcher, and Kenova, W.Va. native, Don ”Donnie” Robinson.

Now, an investigation by our sister station WKYT reveals details about the criminal history of the driver that caused the crash.

A total of five people were killed in the Christmas Eve crash in Knox County.

Kentucky State Police say Brent Robinson, 30, and Julia Robinson, 29, both of Bradenton, Fl., were in a car driven by Julia’s parents, Gary and Patricia Caldwell, when the driver of another vehicle lost control, crossed the center line, went airborne after hitting a median and then slammed into their car.

The Caldwell’s were also killed along with the driver of the car that hit them, David Vanderpool of Williamsburg, Ky.

While not much is known about the moments before the deadly crash, a look at Vanderpool's history suggests the crash could have been avoided.

"He was on parole at the time of this accident which would have ended sometime in 2015," said Whitley County Commonwealth's Attorney Allen Trimble, who says his jurisdiction had plenty of run-ins with Vanderpool.

The 31-year-old has faced roughly 35 charges in seven years. Most of them are theft related, but a few stand out like in 2006 he was charged with driving on a suspended license. In March of 2012, he was arrested for a felony theft charge where he was found guilty and sentenced to five years. He served only nine months.

"At the time he was sentenced, he had served about 180-some days. All people get credit for the time they have served, and under the current regulations a person is eligible to be paroled on a five year sentence after they have served nine months," explained Trimble.

WKYT also reports that on December 5, Vanderpool was arrested again, but this time it was in Lincoln County for driving on a suspended license. The next day he pleaded guilty, despite being on parole he was sentenced to just 30 days.

The station reports that he skipped past the sentencing after Lincoln County District Judge Janet Booth gave him a two year conditional discharge, or simply probation. A condition that Trimble says would've been unsupervised.

"Probably at that time no one was aware of it, and I'm sure that if they were they may have looked at it differently. I don't think it was their fault," said Trimble.

The State Transportation Cabinet says Vanderpool's license was again suspended in November of 2011 at the request of the Whitley County Court System.

"There is nothing that prevents a person without a license or a with suspended license from getting a set of keys, going to a car and taking off," said Trimble.

WKYT requested a comment from Judge Booth's office, but their calls were not returned.

Visitation for the Robinson's and the Caldwell’s was held Thursday night

The four were headed home to celebrate Christmas after the Robinson's flew to Kentucky from Florida.



ORIGINAL STORY 12/27/12
KNOX COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The son and daughter-in-law of former major league pitcher, and Kenova, W.Va. native, Don ”Donnie” Robinson, have been killed in a car crash in Knox County, Ky.

The accident happened on U.S. 25-E near Flat Lick on Christmas Eve.

Kentucky State Police say Brent Robinson, 30, and Julia Robinson, 29, both of Bradenton, Fl., were in a car driven by Julia’s parents, Gary and Patricia Caldwell, when the driver of another vehicle lost control, crossed the center line, went airborne after hitting a median and then slammed into their car.

The Caldwell’s were also killed along with the driver of the car that crossed the center line, David Vanderpool of Williamsburg, Ky.

KSP investigators say alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

The family was on their way to the Caldwell's Harlan County home when the crash happened.

According to a Tampa television station, Brent and Julia had been at Don Robinson's Bradenton, Fl. home for Christmas dinner on Sunday night and flown back to Kentucky on Monday.

"I keep thinking in my mind that 10 years from now, he's not going to be here," Don Robinson told the station. "He's not going to be here so I can talk to him."

Don also told the station that his son and Julia were inseparable, and how she would accompany Brent on business trips and how the two would go to games together, especially the Rays and the Giants.

"He loved his wife; he loved her more than anything. He wouldn't do anything without her," said Don.

Don Robinson says Julia and Brent will be buried in Florida.

Investigators said the Robinsons were not wearing seat belts.

Don Robinson pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, California Angels and Philadelphia Phillies during his 15-year major league career.


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