Police, friends search for answers in Ripley County fatal crash
Family and friends of the teenagers involved in a deadly Thursday morning crash in southeast Indiana went back to the scene Friday. Investigators hope the vehicle's on-board computer systems, will tell them more.
Three students died in the crash at the intersection of CR 850 West and Fairground Road in Ripley County. Three others were injured. Police are trying to figure out why neither driver stopped for the stop sign, while friends and family of the victims are also looking for answers.
"A useless loss of young life," said Clarence Sargent, a close family friend of Timothy Bowman, who died in the crash. "He was a worker and a hustler and very polite and mannerable to older people. Very respectful."
Bowman died at the scene, along with a passenger in his pick-up truck, 18-year-old Jacob Vogel. Another passenger, 15-year-old Caleb Cumberworth, suffered minor injuries.
The Ford F250 Bowman was driving collided with a Dodge Ram driven by 17-year-old Thomas Crawford of Dillsboro. He survived, but his passenger, 18-year-old Samantha Hanson, did not. A third passenger, 15-year-old Kayla Adkinson, was injured in the crash.
State troopers say the FFA members had just finished serving breakfast at a rural church when both drivers ran the stop sign.
Retired elementary teacher Norma Sheets taught or knew the teenagers involved, calling the deadly crash a sad reality check for teens.
"Make that quick decision to speed, avoid a stop light or text, it could always end in disaster," she said.
Thursday night, friends lit candles at a local restaurant and comforted each other with hugs and memories.
"He was just funny and he loved to help out with everything and he'd be there for you if you needed him," said Tristin Collins.
Now, debris from the wreckage and flowers mark the crash scene. It's a grim reminder and why Sargent continues to warn his granddaughter about driving safely.
"When something like this happens, it devastates the whole family. So please, when you are driving, put the phone down," he said.
Investigators plan to talk to the teens who survived the crash to help shed some light on what happened.