Thursday, January 16, 2003

Blind spot cited in fatal crash

Dip in road may have contributed to LCI inspector's death

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

TURTLECREEK TWP. - A blind spot on a rolling stretch of Ohio 63 might have been a factor in a fatal crash that involved a rookie Warren County deputy on his fourth day of patrol by himself, state troopers said Wednesday.

Timothy L. Sowards, 49, longtime inspector at Lebanon Correctional Institution, was killed about 10:53 p.m. Tuesday when the car he was riding in turned left into the path of a cruiser driven by Deputy Richard K. Jones, 24, of Lebanon.

Sgt. Ken Ward, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Lebanon post, said the 1997 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Jessica Bostic, 21, of Hamilton, was turning into Mr. Sowards' driveway in front of the prison when the crash occurred. The driveway is at the crest of a small hill.

Deputy Jones "popped the dip and she turned in front of him. He couldn't really see her, and she couldn't see him until the last second," Sgt. Ward said.

Ms. Bostic was not injured. Mr. Sowards was pronounced dead at Miami Valley Hospital. Deputy Jones was treated at Bethesda Warren County care center.

Neither alcohol nor speed appeared to be factors, he said.

Ms. Bostic passed a field sobriety and a portable breathalyzer test administered at the scene. Deputy Jones was traveling within the 55 mph speed limit, he said.

Warren County prosecutors will review the case and decide whether Ms. Bostic will be charged with vehicular homicide. At the least, she would face a traffic violation of failure to yield while turning left, Sgt. Ward said. Ms. Bostic could not be reached.

No charges are being considered against Deputy Jones, Sgt. Ward said.

Deputy Jones, son of the Butler County sheriff's chief deputy, joined the Warren County force four months ago and had just begun patrolling alone on Saturday following completion of field training.

He could not be reached Wednesday and was on his scheduled day off, sheriff's officials said.

Mr. Sowards, who lived in a rented house on LCI property, was the institutional inspector and had worked there since 1978, said prison spokeswoman Julia Bush. As an inspector, Mr. Sowards investigated inmate complaints.

Ms. Bush said his co-workers were shocked by the news.

"Everybody's pretty devastated," she said.


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