Crash claims life of SR teacher
Icy roads cause of serious accidents

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Police say ice and snow covered roadways contributed to a fatal accident and another serious one last week.

Thursday morning, February 19, South Ripley school teacher Sandra Michelle Riggle, 26, of North Vernon, lost her life in a crash that occurred about 7:40 a.m. on US 50 west of Holton.

According to the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office, Riggle was eastbound on US 50 driving a 2001 Chevy Cavalier passenger car when she lost control in a curve and crossed into the westbound lane of traffic. At that time Timothy L. Mills, 55, Versailles, was traveling westbound operating a 2001 Dodge 4x4 pick up truck, and could not avoid the Riggle vehicle. She was struck in the passenger side and was pronounced dead at the scene by Ripley County Coroner Ron Buchanan.

US 50 was closed for approximately three hours while the investigation was conducted and the roadway cleared. Deputy Jason Dickerson, Ripley County Sheriff’s Office, and Sgt. Dan Goris, Indiana State Police, investigated the crash.

Superintendent of South Ripley Community Schools Ted Ahaus told the Osgood Journal the corporation immediately gathered the staff and called counselors and clergy to respond to the school. Thursday was a hard day as school officials, teachers and students came to grips with the death of someone Ahaus described as “a very bright teacher they were proud to have on their team.”

Riggle taught chemistry, physics, and biology at South Ripley where she was also the junior class sponsor. She was a 2006 graduate of Indiana University Southeast, holding two bachelors degrees. She graduated in 2001 from Jefferson High School, Jeffersonville. On South Ripley's website she posted this message, “I look forward to many years of teaching at South Ripley.”

She was in her second year of teaching at the school where Ahaus noted, “We were glad to have her and she was glad to be here.”

South Ripley Homecoming held a somber note Friday night as the teacher was remembered. Team members wore black arm bands and at half time a short memorial was held in her honor. The center fold of the program for the evening was dedicated in her honor. Principal Bob Meyer said she would be sadly missed.

Riggle was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville and a Gold Award Girl Scout. She was the daughter of Walter and Sandy Riggle, both educators in the Salem/New Albany school systems.

Funeral services were held Monday, February 23 at the Scott Funeral Home’s North Chapel, Jeffersonville. Memorials may be made to the Sandra Michelle Riggle Scholarship Fund in care of the funeral home.

Indiana State Trooper seriously injured
In an accident that occurred Saturday, February 21 about 4:35 p.m. Indiana State Trooper Clifton Elston, 31, of Cross Plains, was seriously injured when he lost control of his 2006 Ford Crown Victoria on US 421.

According to information from Sgt. Noel Houze, public information officer for the Versailles Post, Trooper Clifton was northbound on US 421 about a mile south of Versailles when he lost control, skidded left of center, and was struck broadside in the passenger side. That vehicle, a 1994 Ford Thunderbird, was being operated by Lance Provost, 37 of Louisville, KY.

Trooper Elston sustained serious injuries, and was air cared to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with the initial report noting he was suffering from multiple leg fractures and fractured ribs. Sgt. Houze told the Osgood Journal Monday morning, February 23, that Elston was in fair condition and was looking to possibly come home later in the week.

Provost suffered severe lacerations to his left hand. Passengers in the Provost vehicle were: Krystel Kemper, 26, who had bruising to her right hand and foot, Lana Provost, 13, who was also bruised, and Courtney Gootee, 14, who sustained a head laceration and possible broken ankle. All were from Louisville.

Several rescue squads were dispatched to the scene including: Ripley County Medic, Rescue 69, Milan Rescue 30, and King’s Daughters' EMS. The Versailles and Dillsboro fire departments also responded, along with state police from the Versailles Post, deputies from the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office, and Versailles and Milan police officers.

South Ripley School teacher Michelle Riggle, 26, lost her life in this tragic accident that police say ice/ snowy roadways contributed to. She was driving a 2001 Chevy Cavalier and lost control and was struck by a pickup truck being operated by Timothy Mills, 55, of Versailles. The accident occurred on Thursday, February 19 west of Holton on US 50.