PUTNAM COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia said there is not enough evidence to charge a former Cabell County deputy who hit and killed a 13-year-old girl in December 2022.
Jeffrey S. Racer hit and killed Jacqueline “Laney” Hudson on Dec. 30, 2022, according to Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle.
Prosecuting Attorney Sorsaia said he was looking to see if Racer could be charged with negligent homicide. Sorsaia said the evidence showed that the death of Hudson was not a result of Racer’s negligence.
He said the death of Hudson was a result of her being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and synthetic marijuana known as “K2.”
Sorsaia said, “The evidence clearly shows in this case that the tragic loss of Jacqueline Hudson was not a result of the negligence of Deputy Racer. I believe that the loss of Jacqueline Hudson was a direct result of a thirteen-year-old, who was exposed to the use of alcohol and marijuana laced with K2 synthetic substances, that severely affected her judgment and ability to make rational decisions, and subsequently led to her running in front of the car.”
On a personal note, I want to point out that during my lifetime and professional career, I have encountered situations in which an individual driving a car had the unfortunate experience of killing a pedestrian through an accidental circumstance. I believe we all need to keep in mind that this is a tragic event, especially regarding the loss of a child, which results not only in a horrific tragedy for the child and the child’s family, but also a horrific tragedy for the individual who was driving the car. One difficult aspect of this situation is that Deputy Racer will be plagued by this tragedy for the rest of his life, knowing that he operated a motor vehicle that took the life of a young girl. In reviewing these facts, a prosectuor has an obligation to be fair and impartial about the circumstances for all involvedMark Sorsaia, Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney
Sorsaia finished the letter with, “Our prayers and sincere condolences,” go to the people impacted by the death of Hudson.
The Hudson family released a statement Thursday. It said:
While we ultimately expected this decision of no criminal charges against Jeff Racer, we continue to pursue justice for Laney after her senseless death. The basic facts of the case remain: Former Deputy Jeff Racer killed Laney Hudson while driving a Cabell County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle on December 30, 2022. Racer’s actions precipitated the vehicular death of a juvenile pedestrian and left a family heartbroken. Despite our disappointment about the special prosecutor’s decision, we remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice. We look forward to reviewing the State’s full investigation once it is released in order to compare it to our own.Laney Hudson’s family
Laney Hudson was 13 years old when she was struck and killed by Racer at the intersection of 5th Ave. and 31st St. in Huntington. It was found that Racer was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to Sergeant B.K. Wellman with the West Virginia State Police. He also said Racer passed field sobriety tests at the scene.
The result from the black box in that cruiser came back “inconclusive,” according to Sorsaia in March 2023. Sorsaia said, due to the cruiser’s age, the airbag would have had to deploy for authorities to get information from the black box. However, the airbags did not deploy during the crash.
Sorsaia was assigned to look into “possible criminal charges” in the case in January 2023, while the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office is looking into any possible policy violations, according to the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office.
To read the full letter from the Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney, click here.