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Tow truck driver charged in fatal crash (IN)


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A local tow truck driver accused of rear-ending a vehicle on Jonathan Moore Pike, causing a death, has been charged with three felonies after a blood test showed he was on methamphetamine when the collision occurred in January.


Ruel P. Pedigo III, 49, of 1085 Jonesville Road, was arrested Thursday on a Bartholomew Circuit Court warrant on charges of:

Causing a death while operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the blood, a Level 4 felony, the most serious of the charges.

Reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony


Causing serious bodily injury when operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the blood, a Level 6 felony.


Pedigo posted $40,000 cash bond and was released from the Bartholomew County Jail on Thursday, jail officials said.


The charges stem from a multi-vehicle accident at 7:40 p.m. Jan. 27 on Jonathan Moore Pike near Johnson Boulevard, court documents state. The accident occurred in the eastbound lanes and involved as many as six vehicles.


Investigators said a Ford F650 tow truck with a vehicle on the flat-bed driven by Pedigo rear-ended a Mazda 3 passenger car, resulting in the death of the Mazda driver, Patrick N. Bowman, 35, of Brown County. Bowman was a native of Columbus and graduated from Columbus North High School in 2001.


The crash also caused serious injuries to Bowman’s passenger, Sarah Fliehman, 25, of Brown County, who was later transferred to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital for treatment of a head injury. She was later upgraded to good condition after the accident.


A number of collisions occurred among vehicles in front of the Mazda after the two truck hit it, accident reconstructionists said.


Eyewitnesses along Jonathan Moore Pike told investigators that the cars that collided were all stopped or slowing for the traffic light and that Pedigo’s tow truck did not appear to slow down prior to the accident, according to court documents.


After the accident, Pedigo told investigators he had just exited I-65 South and was heading east on Jonathan Moore Pike in the tow truck in the far left non-turn lane, when an unidentified small black car changed from the left turn lane to Pedigo’s lane, court documents state.


Pedigo told police he tried to brake, but slid, causing the accident, court documents state. Pedigo told police he was going about 25 to 30 mph when he collided with the Mazda, court documents state.


Investigators obtained a search warrant to download the airbag diagnostic sensing module in the tow truck, court documents state. The data obtained showed Pedigo’s tow truck was traveling between 37 and 40 mph in the seconds leading up to the crash and that Pedigo did not apply the brakes until about 1 second prior to impact with Bowman’s Mazda, court documents state.


Pedigo’s toxicology report showed he had methamphetamine and amphetamine, a metabolite of methamphetamine, in his blood when the accident occurred, court documents state. Pedigo consented to the blood test, which was taken about an hour after the accident at Columbus Regional Hospital.



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