motorcyclists killed, five more injured
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
The weekend proved to be a deadly one for motorcyclists in the
area with five being killed and more injured in three separate
accidents in or near Ripley County. Within a time span of 24 hours,
law enforcement and emergency rescue workers would respond to
three accidents that had fatal results.
The first crash occurred at approximately 3:20 p.m. Saturday,
June 9 when Bryant Withers, 18 of Milan, crossed the center line
for reasons unknown and struck several motorcycles that were participating
in the American Federation of Riders annual poker run.
According to information from the Indiana State Police, the initial
investigation revealed a group of motorcyclists were traveling
eastbound on SR 350 just east of the Ripley/Dearborn County line.
A group of motorists traveling westbound began to pull to the
right side of the roadway to allow extra room for the motorcycles
to pass them. The last car in the line of westbound vehicle, a
2006 Mercury Sable, driven by Withers, crossed the center line
striking at least three motorcycles.
Joseph Hurley II, 43, of Harrison, OH was operating a 1996 Yamaha
and he and his passenger, Lisa Rhoades, 40, also of Harrison,
OH, were both pronounced dead at the scene. Also fatally injured
was David Bartley, 40, of Greendale, who was operating a 2005
Withers was flown to University Hospital in Cincinnati, where
he was treated and released. Also injured in the crash was Dale
House, 50 of Florence, KY, and wife, Connie. They were operating
a 2002 Harley Davidson. Pete Izzo of North Bend, OH, was not struck
by the vehicle, but was injured when he laid his motorcycle down
to avoid debris. He was treated at the scene by EMS personnel
for a minor abrasion to his leg, according to information from
Sgt. Noel Houze Jr. of the Indiana State Police.
The crash is being investigated by S/Tpr. Ben Bastin, and assisted
by Sgt. Dan Goris of the Indiana State Police. Also assisting
at the scene were officers from the Dearborn and Ripley County
Sheriffs Departments, Moores Hill Fire Department and EMS,
Milan Fire Department, University of Cincinnati Air Care, and
the Dearborn County Coroners Office.
Officers are asking for the publics help. They are looking
for the driver of a 2000 model silver Chevrolet Impala with Indiana
In God We Trust license plates who was the lead driver in the
line of westbound cars that pulled to the side. Officers stress
this person is not under suspicion for any violation but could
possibly have information that may prove valuable to the investigation.
That person is asked to contact S/Tpr. Ben Bastin or Sgt. Dan
Goris of the Indiana State Police Versailles District at 812-689-5000
or 800-566-6704. (The 800 number is good in Indiana only).
That same evening around 6:26 p.m. police responded to a car/motorcycle
accident on US 50 and Front Street in Dillsboro. According to
Dillsboro Police Chief Ryan W. Brandt when officers arrived on
the scene there was a vehicle and motorcycle blocking the eastbound
lanes of US 50.
The passenger car involved was driven by Lisa Dole of Harrison,
OH. James Penwell, driver of the motorcycle was pronounced dead
at the scene. His passenger, Lori A. Kirchner was air cared to
University of Cincinnati Hospital and is listed in critical condition.
Dole was taken to the Dearborn County Hospital where she was treated
The cause of the accident is under investigation by John Hegge
of the Dillsboro Police, who was assisted by the Dearborn County
Sheriffs Department, Dillsboro Fire Department, Dillsboro
Life Squad, Aurora Police Department, Aurora Life Squad and the
Dearborn County Coroners Office.
A third accident claimed yet another motorcyclist on Sunday, June
10 around 4:00 p.m. According to information from Sgt. Noel Houze
Jr. of the Indiana State Police, the crash occurred on SR 101
approximately a mile north of Milan.
The initial investigation showed that two motorcycles were traveling
northbound on SR 101 when they slowed down for a vehicle that
was turning into a private drive. The motorcycles were being followed
by a 1993 Ford dual wheel pickup truck driven by Jacob Eckstein,
19, of Sunman. The police report noted that Ecksteins attention
was diverted briefly and when he looked ahead the motorcycles
were slowed or stopped and he struck one of them, a 2003 Kawasaki
being operated by Ralph Peterson, 63, of Laurel. Mr. Peterson
was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, 56-year-old Sandra,
was a passenger on the motorcycle. She was airlifted to University
Hospital in Cincinnati by Dove Flight Air Ambulance for possible
internal injuries and is listed in critical condition. Eckstein
was not injured.
Sgt. Houze noted that neither of the Petersons was wearing
helmets. He said investigators and rescue personnel on the scene
believed a helmet may have saved Mr. Peterson from fatal injuries.
The crash remains under investigation.
Trooper Brian Pennock of the Indiana State Police is investigating
the crash, assisted by Sgt. Dan Goris. Also assisting at the scene
were officers from the Ripley County Sheriffs Department,
Milan Police Department, Milan Rescue 30, Milan Fire Department,
Ripley County Medic, Dove Fight Air Ambulance, and the Ripley
County Coroners Office.
None of those fatally injured in the three accidents were wearing
helmets according to police. Witnesses at the scene of the triple
fatality noted that they didnt believe wearing a helmet
would have made any difference.
Pictured is the car Bryant Withers, 18,
of Milan, was driving when for unknown reasons he veered
into the path of a group of motorcyclists in an accident
that occurred on Saturday, June 9 near the Ripley/Dearborn
County line. Three motorcyclists were killed and three more
injured in the crash.