The Duncan Banner
Since Thursday, there have been three separate major accidents on Stephens County roads, in which two area individuals have died and a third person was ejected at the time of the impact.
An accident that happened about 8 p.m. Saturday in Velma claimed the life of a rural Duncan man, Robert Bench, who was also trapped in his vehicle for 30 to 45 minutes. Velma Police Chief Randy Whipple said Velma Fire Department used the Jaws of Life for extraction and that Bench was pronounced dead at Duncan Regional Hospital.
A Duncan/Empire woman, Rachel Rothner, was killed Thursday night in an accident around Plainsman Road, in the Marlow area. Marlow has not released the accident report and therefore no details are available.
As for the Velma accident, Chief Whipple said it happened in front of Speedy G’s, at new State Highway 7 and Perdue Road, when Bench who was heading northbound on Perdue, ran a stop sign. He was making a wide sweeping turn to go east onto SH 7, and a tanker truck, carrying crude oil, was heading westbound on SH 7, he said.
“The car pulled in front of him and they collided in the intersection,” Whipple said. The accident is still under investigation, but family members were notified. Bench leaves behind a wife and young son, Whipple said.
The driver of the tanker truck, John Claxton, was arrested and is in Stephens County Jail, but only for driving under suspension. Whipple said Claxton does not appear to be at fault for the accident.
“I had no choice, he had to go to jail, for the DUS, and it being a fatality,” Whipple said. Claxton was driving a private transport truck, owned by Perkins Trucking, located on the west side of Velma.
Initially, Claxton refused transport to the hospital and had cuts, scrapes and bruises. Whipple said he later complained of pain and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
The accident also was an environmental spill. B&M Wrecker Service, out of Davis, which also specializes in environmental cleanups, handled the crude oil cleanup and offload of remaining oil. On Sunday morning, that company also removed the truck and tanker.
Assisting at the Velma scene were Stephens County Sheriff’s Office and Undersheriff John Smith, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers Tom Winton and Joe Lang.
Earlier Saturday, a triple vehicle accident happened on State Highway 29, and one Marlow woman was ejected from the vehicle in which she was riding. None of the other individuals were injured according to the report from OHP Troop G out of Lawton. The accident happened about 6 p.m. just 3/10 of a mile east of Goodrich Road.
Marlow residents involved were Keith Fizer, 48, and his passenger, Leslie Fizer, 44, who were in a 2009 Dodge pickup. Leslie was taken to DRH by AMR and admitted with head, arm and internal trunk injuries but listed in good condition.
Other individuals in the accident were Howard Dutton, 22, and Jasmine Johnson, 19, in a 1996 Lexus LS40; and Caleb Clark, 27, in a 1993 Ford Probe. Dutton, Johnson and Clark are all Lindsey residents.
Dutton was eastbound on SH29 and was attempting to pass the Fizer vehicle when he saw an approaching vehicle and swerved back into the eastbound lane at which point he hit the Fizer vehicle in the rear.
Both the Dutton and Fizer vehicles went off the roadway to the right and the Fizer vehicle rolled 1 1/4 times. Leslie Fizer was ejected 39 feet from the vehicle, during the roll. The Dutton vehicle also rolled.
Clark lost a bale of hay in the roadway and his car also hit the hay bale.
The accident report noted that all occupants, with the exception of Leslie Fizer, were wearing seatbelts.
Trooper Lang investigated the SH 29 accident, and was assisted by Trooper Jason Riddle and also the Bray-Doyle Volunteer Fire Department, SCSO and Oklahoma Department of Transportation.