The Boy Lincoln Statue, not yet 3-years-old, and the century-old seated Lincoln statue were damaged early Sunday when an alleged drunken driver tore through Hodgenville’s Lincoln Square traffic island.
Boy Lincoln, a depiction of Abraham Lincoln at age 7 standing with his dog Honey, was dedicated to the city in May 2008 as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration. The small bronze sculpture was knocked from its base by a 2001 Ford Taurus driven by Jeremy Scott Veatch, 23, of Austin.
Just after 4 a.m., the car entered the traffic island from U.S. 31-E (East Main Street), squeezed through a set of traffic barriers, struck the small statue and a spotlight, nicked the base of the larger Lincoln statue and hit a flagpole before coming to rest. No brake marks were visible.
The car and Boy Lincoln landed behind the Adolph A. Weinman statue of the adult Lincoln, which was dedicated in 1909. It is not yet determined whether the older statue was damaged by the jolt to the base.
The car had extensive front-end damage.
Boy Lincoln has severe scrapes and scratches on his head and leg. Honey lost part of an ear. The hollow sculpture’s base was dented.
Veatch, who was not injured, told investigating officer Marcus Jackson of Hodgenville City Police that he had been to a party in Bardstown Saturday night and was on his way home to Barren County when he missed the turn at the “squircle.”
Veatch’s blood alcohol level was .180, according to the arrest report. The legal limit is .08.
Veatch was charged with DUI and failure to produce proof of insurance. Veatch said he has insurance, according to Jackson, but did not have an insurance card.
Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse was notified about the crash shortly after it occurred. He said he had a chance to speak with Veatch at the scene.
“He said, ‘I was just trying to get home, sir,’” said Cruse.
Hodgenville and LaRue County firefighters picked up debris and washed the area with a fire hose.
Veatch, who has two prior speeding tickets, was lodged in the LaRue County Detention Center under $1,000 bond and will be arraigned Wednesday in LaRue District Court.
Police Chief Steve Johnson said Veatch may also be charged with first-degree criminal mischief.
Cruse said he wasn’t surprised that a vehicle had managed to strike the statues. Several years ago, a man who was eventually charged with DUI drove a car into the seated Lincoln statue before the traffic island turned into a circle, Cruse said. More recently, another driver drove straight through the island, but missed the statues.
Cruse has contacted the Kentucky Historical Society and the Boy Lincoln’s maker, Daub Firmin Hendrickson Sculpture group of Berkeley, Calif., about repairs. Sculptor Rob Firmin will help determine if the sculpture can be restored or if it will need to be re-cast.
The City obtained the original mold for Boy Lincoln during the Lincoln Bicentennial.
“My opinion is that it will be a minimum of three months before we can replace it,” Cruse said.
Firmin, responding to an email Monday, said he was “terribly upset that our Boy Lincoln was hit by a car and am also relieved to hear that no one was injured in the accident.”
“We will repair or replace him depending on the extent and type of damage sustained,” Firmin said. “It was wise of the town to maintain the full-size mold. Hodgenville will have its ‘Lincoln as a Boy’ back as good as new.”
The sculpture has been placed in storage.
The Boy Lincoln sculpture was funded by a $200,000 grant from the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Kentucky Arts Council. The grant covered bid-taking, design and dedication ceremony. The statue itself is valued at about $120,000, Cruse said.
The City will consider reconfiguring the traffic barriers to make it more difficult for vehicles to drive onto the island, Cruse said.