Two men have been arrested after their “road rage” caused a crash that killed a 24-year-old race car driver, Indiana cops say.
The crash happened Friday, Aug. 18, on Interstate 65 in Jackson County. It led to the death of 24-year-old Ashlea Albertson, who was a passenger in one of the two vehicles involved in the accident.
An investigation revealed Austin Cooper, 22, was driving a Chevrolet Malibu, and Jacob Kelly, 31, was driving a GMC Terrain. They were “accelerating rapidly and refused to allow the other vehicle to pass,” Indiana State Police said in a Nov. 29 news release.
Cooper and Kelly were driving beside one another and reached speeds of 90 mph when they crashed, state police said. Their vehicles collided in the middle of the lanes, and Albertson was thrown from the Terrain when it rolled.
Albertson was flown to University of Louisville Hospital, where she died. She and Kelly, who were engaged to be married in March, were driving home from a vacation, McClatchy News reported.
State police said Kelly was arrested Monday, Nov. 27, and Cooper turned himself in Tuesday. They face charges of reckless homicide.
Cooper, who state police said had THC in his system at the time of the crash, was also charged with causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance.
Albertson, of Greenfield, Indiana, was a member of NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart’s racing team, McClatchy News reported. Stewart called Albertson “a great race car driver” who had an “infectious personality.”
“In the past, I’ve also gotten caught up in road rage,” Stewart said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “I hope that we can honor Ashlea by controlling what we can control on the highway. Losing her is a sobering reminder of how precious life is.”
Albertson began racing “at an early age,” the Greenfield Reporter said in a 2021 article. She won two races in the All-Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midget Series, in which racers compete on dirt tracks.
“She was a good kid (and) a better person,” her father, Todd Albertson, said in a video posted on Facebook. “She just loved racing, she loved the community and you all have done so much for her.”