19-year-old sentenced to jail time, probation for vehicular assault


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Kylan Knapp, 19, was sentenced this week to jail time, probation and a driver’s license suspension for his role in an April 30, 2022 one-vehicle accident that seriously injured his guest at the Miami Trace High School prom.

Knapp, of Washington Court House, was originally facing three charges — the vehicular assault count as well as third-degree felony aggravated vehicular assault and a misdemeanor OVI charge. At his two-day trial on April 20 and 21 in Fayette County Common Pleas Court, the jury could not reach an agreement on all of the counts, and the foreperson reported “there was no probability of reaching a unanimous verdict,” according to court records.

The jury returned the guilty verdict solely on the vehicular assault count, and the court declared a mistrial on the other two counts.

A retrial was possible but after taking a week’s time to contemplate the best option, Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade and the victim in this case, Emily J. Helms, of New Holland, agreed that a retrial was not the best course of action.

At Monday’s sentencing hearing in Common Pleas Court, Knapp stood before Judge David Bender and Helms’s family, and made a formal apology to both the victim and the court. Judge Bender found that Knapp “lacked remorse” for the victim and the damage he had done.

Helms also addressed Knapp before he was taken to the Fayette County Jail. She told Knapp that she wished he would have “given her a sincere apology” after the tragic accident, which left them both hospitalized. The victim also said tearfully that she would “always be praying” for Knapp to “find forgiveness for himself.”

Knapp was sentenced to two years of probation, 18 months of jail with all but the first 200 days suspended, and a five-year operator’s license suspension.

The accident occurred on Bloomingburg-New Holland Road at the intersection of Lewis Road in Union Township at approximately 10:07 p.m. April 30, 2022. Knapp was driving the vehicle and Helms was his passenger.

Knapp was a Miami Trace senior and the victim was his guest at the prom, as reported by the authorities.

According to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, a 2002 Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck was heading northeast on Bloomingburg-New Holland Road when Knapp lost control at the intersection of Lewis Road. The vehicle went off the left side of the roadway and crashed into a stop sign, landscape area and tree before coming to rest in the yard of a residence.

Knapp was pinned beneath the vehicle and was extricated by members of the Washington Fire Department, Stanforth said. The passenger in the vehicle, identified as Helms, is believed to have been ejected from the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Both Knapp and Helms were treated at the scene and then transported by Fayette County EMS to Adena Fayette Medical Center. They were subsequently transferred to an area trauma center for further medical treatment.

The vehicle sustained heavy damage in the crash and was towed from the scene.

“Prior to the crash, it was reported that the Knapp vehicle and possibly a second vehicle were operating in a reckless manner on the school parking lot,” Stanforth said. “A nearby deputy was alerted to the reckless operation by deputies working the prom event. As the deputy was entering the parking lot of the Miami Trace High School, the vehicle later determined to be operated by Knapp departed the Miami Trace High School parking lot at a high rate of speed traveling northeast on Bloomingburg-New Holland Road. The deputy turned around to exit the parking lot and attempted to catch up with the vehicle but lost sight and subsequently drove upon the crash, rendering aid to the occupants until the arrival of EMS.”

According to the indictment, Knapp’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was 0.083.

“There never was a breathalyzer, but there was a blood draw in the hospital after the accident,” said Weade. “It was all part of the investigation that led us to an indictment.”

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