HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Today, March 30, 2023, marks three months since the death of a teenage girl in Huntington.

Laney Hudson was just 13 years old when on Dec. 30, 2022, she was struck and killed by an off-duty Cabell County Sheriff’s deputy who was behind the wheel of a cruiser. Tonight her family and friends, who have been calling for charges in the case, are rallying again at the scene of the crash on 5th Avenue and 31st Street in Huntington.

Laney’s loved ones are still searching for answers in the ongoing investigation, and this is just one of many rallies they’ve held over the past three months in hopes of getting more information on what exactly happened that night. They say every day without answers, their heartbreak continues.

“Every day is not easy,” says Laney’s uncle Frank Slone. “it’s just a nightmare that repeats every day. We see it every day. We have to know that we got that phone call. You know, Laney wasn’t a bad kid. She wasn’t out doing anything wrong. You know, there’s a lot of things that I want to say I know I can’t on camera, and I respect that, but we just want justice done and justice needs cleared.

Right now, we know:

  • On the night of the crash, officials confirmed that off-duty Cabell County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffery Racer was behind the wheel of a cruiser that hit and killed 13-year-old Jacquline “Laney” Hudson at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 31st Street in Huntington.
  • The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office has been tasked with investigating possible policy violations, but according to KCSO Sergeant Joshua Lester, that case is still open.
  • Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia was assigned to look into “possible criminal charges” in the death of a 13-year-old in Cabell County struck and killed by an off-duty deputy.
  • The black box collected from the cruiser was sent to the Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. They later released that the results from the blackbox were inconclusive. Due to the cruiser’s age, the airbag would have had to deploy for authorities to be able to get information from the black box, however, the airbags did not deploy during the crash.
  • Deputy Racer is still on paid leave as the investigation continues.

So far, no new information on the toxicology report has been released. WOWK 13 News Reporter Lane Ball has reached out to the Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for an update, but we have yet to hear back.

According to the family’s attorney Tyler Haslam, legal action could be a possibility in the future, but a recent situation with West Virginia State Police is affecting that process. Haslam released the following statement:

Attorneys Tyler Haslam and Kerry Nessel are in active communications with legal counsel for the Cabell County Commission, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Racer himself. On behalf of Laney’s family, our team reached out to the County Commission in early March to request discussion on this case and our communications were directed to their attorney.  

First and foremost, we want to ensure there is a thorough investigation of this matter that reaches a just conclusion. We are not aware of any updates from the West Virginia State Police that indicate when their investigation might be concluded. Given recent events with that agency, we do not anticipate the investigation being concluded soon.  Regardless, we are now three months from the day Laney was killed and many questions from her family and the public remain unanswered.

We believe that it is important to allow the County Commission sufficient time to review and consider the matter fully, with the advice of counsel, before we engage in any additional legal action.  Once that occurs, we will decide the next steps.

The family thanks the community for their continuous support and understanding as they continue to grieve Laney’s death now three months later.  

Tyler Haslam, attorney for the family of Laney Hudson