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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Greencastle teen killed in accident

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Greencastle High School junior died in a single-car accident on U.S. 36 early Sunday.

Rick Allen Johnston, 17, Greencastle, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:25 a.m. accident near CR 775 West about one mile east of the Parke County line.

He was the passenger in a car driven by Jeremy Wayne Crowder, 23, Bainbridge, who was also injured in the accident and now faces felony charges in the accident and death.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said he will file charges against Crowder as soon as all reports are received from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department and the coroner.

"Sheriff Frisbie has been in contact with me throughout Sunday, and I anticipate that charges will be filed on Monday," Bookwalter said.

In Indiana, anyone operating a vehicle and causing the death of another person has committed a class B felony if the blood-alcohol content of the driver is at least .15 percent. A class B felony carries a penalty of 6-20 years in prison.

Sgt. Tom Helmer reported that Crowder had a .19 percent BAC when tested after the accident. In Indiana, .08 BAC is considered legally intoxicated.

Helmer reported that Crowder was driving the eastbound 1992 Toyota Corolla, registered to Tina Johnston, Greencastle, when the car swerved right off the road and rolled several times. The car went airborne over CR 775 West and came to rest facing north in a cornfield.

Johnston was restrained with a lap and shoulder belt, Helmer reported. He sustained head and abdomen trauma, and was trapped inside the vehicle.

Crowder was taken to Putnam County Hospital via Operation Life ambulance and was later transferred to Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, for treatment of cuts, bruises and internal injuries.

Helmer reported that Crowder at first denied being the driver of the auto, and said there were two additional people in the car. The accident reconstruction, however, determined there were only two people in the car at the time that it crashed, and evidence showed Crowder was the driver. Crowder later told police he saw headlights coming at him and swerved to avoid a collision.

Due to the distance traveled off the road and the severity of the damage, it appeared the car was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to leaving the road, Helmer reported.

Crowder has two charges from 2005 of driving while intoxicated. He was also wanted on a Montgomery County warrant for violation of probation and a Vigo County warrant for larceny.

Assisting Helmer in the investigation were Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Carter of the Terre Haute Post, Trooper Cory Robinson of the Putnamville Post, Bainbridge Marshall Rodney Fenwick, the coroner's office, Bainbridge Fire Department, PMH ambulance and O.L. Ambulance personnel.

Funeral services for Johnston are set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Bittles and Hurt Funeral Home, Greencastle, with Rev. Murray Clugston officiating. Burial will be in New Providence Cemetery.

Visitation is 3-8 p.m. Tuesday.

For a complete obituary, see Page 2A.

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