Wreck survivor facing charges

The man who survived a wreck that led to the death of a Seymour woman Sept. 17 in eastern Jennings County faces a Level 5 felony charge of operating while suspended resulting in death.

The Jennings County Prosecutor’s Office also has requested Class A misdemeanor charges of failure to report a dead body and operating while suspended and a Class B felony charge of false informing against Kevin Eugene Bell, 39, of Dover, Pennsylvania.

Those charges stem from a wreck that led to the death of 37-year-old Nikki K. Hobbs Reed.

The probable cause affidavit was filed Tuesday in Jennings Circuit Court, and an arrest warrant was issued by that court.

Reed’s family had reported her missing Sept. 18 after the mother of three failed to return from a trip to pick up Bell.

The family said she had last been heard from at 12:38 p.m. Sept. 17 while driving back to Indiana with Bell, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Master Trooper Rick Hewitt with the Indiana State Police. Trooper Jordan Craig had investigated the pair’s disappearance.

Police said they believe at some point in the afternoon of Sept. 17, Bell lost control of the sport utility vehicle and ran off the road in the 8600 block of U.S. 50 East.

At that time, police said it appeared Reed, who was in the front passenger seat, sustained fatal injuries in the crash and died instantly.

On the afternoon of Sept. 20, Hewitt responded to the 8600 block of U.S. 50 East in Jennings County near the Ripley County line and found Bell alongside the road with a broken leg and various personal belongings.

Bell first told Hewitt his injuries had occurred after he fell off of a guardrail and down an embankment. During a check of Bell’s license, Hewitt found he and Reed were part of a missing persons investigation.

When asked about Reed, Bell told Hewitt that she was probably still in the truck “at the bottom of the ravine.”

Reed was found dead by firefighters and medical personnel inside her blue 1999 Ford Explorer down an embankment, Hewitt said.

Bell told Hewitt the crash had occurred sometime on the afternoon of Sept. 17 and initially said Reed had been driving.

Bell, however, later admitted he was driving after he removed his shirt and Hewitt saw a driver’s side seat belt abrasion on his chest.

He said Reed had asked him to drive because she had become tired, and she had not been wearing a seat belt because she wanted to sit closer to him, according to court documents.

Bell said Reed didn’t live long after the wreck, and he spent the next 48 hours in the vehicle because his mobility was limited, Hewitt wrote.

He also said his telephone was only charged 2 percent, and he couldn’t charge it anymore because his charger broke during the wreck. Bell said he did send a text message to his boss and doesn’t know why he didn’t call 911.

An autopsy performed at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour on Sept. 21 showed that Reed died of a broken neck and blunt force trauma.

Bell was released from an Indianapolis hospital Sept. 24 and may have returned to Pennsylvania.

Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.