Monthly Archives: November 2020

Thanksgiving truck crash leads to gas leak, fire

Police say a Columbus man crashed a stolen truck into an apartment early on Thanksgiving morning.

Columbus police officers were called to the crash in the 1500 block of 27th Place at 3:07 Thursday morning and found the truck had plowed through the wall of a vacant apartment all the way to its tailgate, causing a gas leak and a fire.

Authorities found 29-year-old Zachary D. Perry stumbling about in the area. Officers determined that the truck had been stolen from one of Perry’s family members.

He was arrested on preliminary charges of auto theft, leaving the scene of a property damage crash and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

Area counties remain in COVID-19 serious spread category

Bartholomew and surrounding counties all remain in the orange, or serious spread category, on the Indiana State Department of Health’s color-coded COVID-19 map.

As of Sunday’s numbers, Bartholomew County has 65 new cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 10.8 percent. In other area counties, Decatur had 15 new cases, Jennings 46, Jackson 49, Brown 4, Johnson 106 and Shelby County 49. Shelby County had two new reported deaths, and Johnson County had one. The most recent death in Bartholomew County was on Thanksgiving Day, bringing the county total to 65.

Indiana added 4,335 new cases yesterday and 24 more deaths, for a state total of 5,418 deaths. The seven-day all-test positivity rate in Indiana is just under 11 percent.

State police recognize area troopers for heroism

Indiana State Police troopers were recognized recently for their work saving lives in our area.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles was awarded a Bronze Star for rescuing a driver from a sinking car after a crash last November on State Road 11 in Jackson County, Indiana. Witnesses reported a car had driven off of the road into the water and the female driver was trapped inside the sinking car. Wheeles entered the water and broke the back window of the car, cutting his hand and arm . Both the driver and Wheeles were treated and released at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.

Three troopers received Lifesaving Awards for saving a driver trapped inside a burning truck off of U.S. 31 in southern Bartholomew County in April 2019. Sgt. Bryce Harris, Senior Trooper Brent Lykins, and Trooper Robert Jonas responded to a two-vehicle crash where one of the drivers was entrapped. Harris and Bartholomew County Deputy Andrew Whipker worked to control the fire while Lykins and Jonas pulled the driver through the back window of the truck.

The 2019 “Trooper of the District” for the Versailles District was awarded to Senior Trooper Matthew Holley. Holley leads the Indiana State Police-Area IV Crash Reconstruction Team.

Charities seeking donations for Giving Tuesday

While online retailers are trying to get you to spend money today on Cyber Monday, not for profit groups are looking for your help tomorrow for Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is organized to encourage folks to give back in ways both big and little in an effort to transform their communities and the world for the better.

The United Way of Bartholomew County is asking for you to consider donating to its Holiday Assistance Fund tomorrow to help ensure that all children in the community have gifts to open on Christmas. Their goal is to raise $5,000 tomorrow, so the community can spend about $75 on each child in need.

With the pandemic, the need is expected to be greater than ever this year.

You can donate by going to and clicking on Donate Here.

Teens accused of robbing Columbus gas station

Four teens are being accused of armed robbery after a Columbus gas station was hit early Friday morning.

Columbus police say that two suspects with their faces covered entered the Marathon Gas Station on North National Road at about 12:07 a.m. Friday morning when one pulled a knife on the cashier. While holding the cashier at knifepoint, the second suspect then stole tobacco and vaping products.

Police were alerted to teens in the backyard of a home in the 3000 block of 16th Street shortly afterwards. One of the teens tried to run away, but was soon captured. Two others were found hiding in a shed in the backyard, along with evidence linked to the gas station. A fourth suspected was arrested later in the day on Friday.

Three 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old are facing preliminary charges of armed robbery, with one 15-year-old also being charged with resisting law enforcement and false informing.

Bartholomew sees second highest new COVID-19 cases

Bartholomew County had the second highest number of new cases of COVID-19 reported since the start of the pandemic, under the new report from the state.

Bartholomew County has 118 new cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 11.4 percent as of today’s update from the Indiana State Department of Health. The only higher day for the county was Nov. 19th with 121 new cases. Bartholomew County also had two new reported deaths, bringing the total here to 65. No other area county reported new deaths in today’s report.

In other area counties, Decatur had 43 new cases, Jennings 17, Jackson 39, Brown 6, Johnson 164 and Shelby County 31.

On the state’s color coded map of COVID-19 spread, Bartholomew and all of its surrounding counties are orange, showing serious spread of the disease.

Indiana has added 5,700 more positive COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths as of Friday’s report. That report showed 324,537 total cases since the start of the pandemic and 5,328 total deaths.


Authorities urge safe, sober driving during holidays

Area law enforcement agencies are urging you to be safe on the road during any holiday travels. They say to drive sober and to buckle up.

Indiana State Police, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus Police Department are involved in efforts to raise safety awareness during this holiday season. The agencies stress that many traffic injuries and deaths could be prevented by wearing a seatbelt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 1975 to 2017 seatbelts have saved an estimated 374 thousand lives. Indiana’s seatbelt usage rate is above 90 percent but still, more than half of the people killed in motor vehicle crashes last year were not buckled up.

In Indiana, there were 106 people killed in alcohol related collisions in 2019, which was 13 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities. Every day, almost 30 people die every day in drunk driving crashes according to federal data.

Most Bartholomew County offices closing next week for cleaning

Bartholomew County government offices will be mostly closed next week for an expanded cleaning and social distancing to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Government offices are closed today under a normal holiday schedule. But next week, only essential workers will be allowed in the buildings on a case-by-case basis and the public will be largely kept out of county facilities. The plan is meant to allow maintenance crews to perform a deep cleaning of county facilities, but also to allow workers to remain separated in the wake of Thanksgiving festivities where COVID-19 might have spread.

Some essential functions will still happen next week including court hearings and the Monday County Commissioners meeting, which will be open to the public via the Zoom app.

Starting Dec. 7th, county offices will only be staffed at 50 percent on a rotating schedule to increase social distancing. The public will still be able to get their business done through phone, email or appointments with individual offices.

Local counties downgraded in COVID-19 spread

Two local counties have been downgraded on the Indiana State Department of Health coronavirus spread map, as of the most recent update.

Decatur and Brown counties had been listed by the state as red counties, showing severe spread of the disease but have now been downgraded. Bartholomew and all of its surrounding counties are now orange, showing serious spread of the disease.

Bartholomew County has 66 new cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 11.7 percent. In other area counties, Decatur had 21 new cases, Jennings 34, Jackson 69, Brown 7, Johnson 164 and Shelby County 75. Johnson County had four new reported deaths, and Shelby County had one.

Indiana has added 6,434 more positive COVID-19 cases and 63 deaths, as of the most recent update on Wednesday. That report showed 318,894 total cases since the start of the pandemic and 5,295 total deaths.

Name released in weekend Brown County homicide

Indiana State Police have released the name of a homicide victim, found over the weekend in Brown County.

Authorities say the body has been positively identified as 38-year-old Angela Weisheit of Indianapolis.

Sheriff Scott Southerland told the Brown County Democrat newspaper that the body was found by a deer hunter near Bean Blossom and Bell roads Saturday. Detectives with the state police said that they believe this is an isolated incident and stress that there is no indication of danger to the public.

This remains an active investigation. Investigators believe that someone has information in the case and are urging anyone to come forward with that information. They say that if you are in fear of reporting what you know, law enforcement has the means to mitigate those concerns. All tips will be investigated and you can remain anonymous.

If you have any information you can contact Indiana State Police Bloomington Post at (812) 332-4411.