OPD: possible medical issue cited in man’s crash Tuesday into park creek

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

Police believe an Owensville man may have experienced a medical emergency Tuesday morning after he hit a Memorial Park utility pole, then spun out in reverse attempting to free his truck, before careening backward down a hill and into a creek bed.

City Marshal Robert Rickerd said a park’s department employee was also injured in the incident, reported at 9:41 a.m., as he attempted to shut off the ignition to Jimmy West’s 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

West, 59, had been driving west on Henry Drive, which turns into a gravel leading into the upper portion of Memorial Park above the rodeo and pulling arena. Bill “Yogi” Honse was off-loading yard waste at a burn pile along the upper drive when he saw West’s truck “veer towards the right side of the shoulder of this gravel road then struck a utility pole,” according to his statement given to Rickerd.

“According to Honse, the vehicle ran head-on into the utility pole,” Rickerd’s report states. “Honse stated the vehicle began revving its motor (at a) high rate of speed and the tires were spinning like the vehicle was in reverse trying to back up from the utility pole.”

Long-time parks employee Ivan G. Bock, 66, was mowing grass nearby and apparently was approaching the truck when it suddenly spun around in reverse. 

John Walter, another long-time park employee, was also working in the area and told Rickerd he observed Bock approaching the passenger side of the truck when it lunged in reverse.

Bock, bloodied from the bridge of his nose, told police he saw the truck hit the pole. When he approached to assist the driver, it had already spun around and was traveling in reverse as he attempted to shut off the ignition or get the truck into park.

However, he said the truck lunged further into reverse and began dragging him down the grass embankment toward the creek.

He told police he knew he had to release himself or be dragged into the creek bed. Bock came to a stop in the grass below the lower section of the walking trail which runs east-to-west behind the arena grandstands.

Bock was transported by Owensville Area Ambulance District personnel to Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City for treatment of what were believed to be minor injuries. Ambulance personnel had wrapped his right leg in an air splint.

His wife, Vicki, said Tuesday evening her husband was “battered and bruised head-to-toe” but that “miraculously, nothing was broken.” He was treated and released and was resting at home Tuesday evening.

Rickerd said West was flown from the scene by ARCH helicopter ambulance to Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

Rickerd said he saw no indication in West’s truck, or during attempts to interview him in the ambulance, that any drugs or alcohol were involved.  Rickerd’s report said West “stated several times that he was in severe pain and needed water and he was very hot.”

The bed of his truck was filled with branches and tree limbs. He appears to have been driving into the upper park area to off-load these items on a burn pile used by park workers and some members of the public.

“It is unknown, at this time, what caused the subject to veer off onto the shoulder from the dead end of Henry Drive, hit the utility pole and end up in the creek bed,” Rickerd noted in his report. “It’s possible it was caused by a medical condition.”

A condition report for West was not available at deadline Tuesday. A hospital spokesman said he was not listed as a patient as of 5:30 p.m. but said due to an unusually high patient count throughout the day on July 9 that he might not have been assigned a room yet if he was a patient there.