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Single-car crash damages tombstones

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A grave marker that was struck by a 1979 Ford Fairmont was still broken at the Union Chapel Cemetery at County Road 600W and U.S. 36 Wednesday afternoon. Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN
BAINBRIDGE -- A single-car crash in northern Putnam County left at least three tombstones damaged and a lot of heads scratching as to exactly what happened.

Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Slover responded to the call at 6:41 a.m. Tuesday at Union Chapel Cemetery at County Road 600W and U.S. 36.

A 1979 Ford Fairmont apparently driven by Jesse D. Brown, 17, Greencastle, was stuck on a grave marker. Brown was sitting on the ground outside of the vehicle.

While Slover was speaking with Brown, he noticed blood on the side of his face, the rear of his head and in his right ear. Brown said he could not remember what had happened.

Evidence at the scene indicates that the vehicle was northbound on 600W when it left the roadway just south of the southeast entrance to the cemetery. Upon hitting the embankment of the driveway, the car appears to have gone airborne for approximately 20 feet before leaving a large rut where it came down.

The car continued north, sideswiping one gravestone, knocking it off its pedestal and sending it into another stone directly to the north. The first marker broke into four large pieces upon impact and shifted the second marker significantly.

Continuing northwest, the car crossed the cemetery driveway before coming to rest on another gravestone.

While there were no witnesses, Max O'Hair, a neighbor who also serves as the cemetery board secretary, said his dogs began barking around 4 a.m. He speculated the crash happened around this time.

After Brown was transported to Hendricks County Hospital in Danville, Slover received a call from the hospital emergency room telling him the driver was suffering from a single gunshot wound to the right temple area and was being flown to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment. The bullet penetrated the skull and was apparently a BB.

Slover found a loaded BB air rifle in the passenger side of the vehicle and a small amount of blood on the steering wheel and passenger seat. There was no evidence of any passengers in the vehicle.

What remains unclear is exactly how, when or why Brown sustained the gunshot wound, whether before or after the crash.

It's also unclear exactly where this leaves the families who own the stones. The car was insured, so insurance claims could take care of the issue.

"When we sell a lot, it's their property and so is the stone," O'Hair said.

Estimated damage from the crash is $2,501 to $5,000.

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Please tell me this kid was high or drunk? or was it suicide by BB gun at 55 mph? can not wait to hear more details on this.

-- Posted by BORNINPUTCO on Thu, Sep 9, 2010, at 4:30 PM

Perhaps there was a passenger - they apparently had 2 hours to walk away. Or maybe he hit pothole and the gun went off which caused him to wreck. hmmmm

-- Posted by indianamama on Thu, Sep 9, 2010, at 4:40 PM

I like indianamama's version...

-- Posted by interestedperson on Thu, Sep 9, 2010, at 7:24 PM

Since the car is insured - and property was damaged, I'm sure the tombstones will be replaced. I hope he's going to be okay.

As a parent, kinda curious though .... Why was he out driving at 4am on a school night ? Was he squirrel hunting at that hour? Where is mom and dad, and did they know he wasn't home ?

-- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Thu, Sep 9, 2010, at 8:53 PM

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