AFTON – A single-vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon involving an Afton couple has claimed the life of one of the spouses.
OHP Trooper Chris Garner #317 of the Ottawa County Detachment of Troop L investigated the accident, which occurred July 18 at approximately 4:39 p.m. on County Rd. S 550 near US59 southbound just east of Afton.
According to Garner's report, Bill Bender,76, was driving the couple's 2001 Pontiac Grand Am accompanied by his wife Judith Bender,74, when the vehicle departed the roadway and struck a tree, rolling three-quarters of the way over and coming to rest on the roadway.
Judith was declared dead at the scene by Miami EMS, and Bill was transported to Freeman Hospital in Joplin where he was admitted in stable condition with internal injuries, according to the report.
Garner's report lists the driver's condition as "apparently normal" and the cause of the accident as "under investigation."
Seatbelts were not in use.
"There are currently no updates on the cause of the accident," said OHP spokesperson, Trooper Dwight Durant.
Durant explained that a blood sample was taken from the driver and will take approximately 6 to 8 weeks to process in conjunction with the investigation.
He also added that in an interview following the accident, Bill said a silver vehicle was in very close proximity to his.
Initial inspection of the Bender's car did not show any signs of contact or paint marks from another vehicle, but Durant said the driver's statement could mean there is a witness who could provide more information.
"That means there could have been a witness," said Durant. "So we are asking anyone who might have seen or been driving a silver vehicle in that location and having more information to please call Troop L Headquarters."
OHP's Troop L Headquarters can be reached at 918-256-3388.
Garner was assisted by Trooper Jeff Laue #579 of the Ottawa County Detachment of Troop L, Trooper Colby Overstreet #656 of the Mayes County Detachment of Troop L, Trooper Jack Rhinehart #943 of the XA Detachment of Troop L, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Afton Fire Department and Miami EMS.