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November: Teen Arrested After Fatal Accident, Teacher Found Not Guilty Of Battery

Last updated on Friday, December 30, 2016

(UNDATED) - November saw three killed and another seriously injured in a fatal accident on Interstate 69. Police arrested the 19-year-old driver who caused the fatal collision after they discovered the driver had been drinking heavily at the Indiana University campus before the deadly accident.

The crash killed three members of the Rinehart family, of Newburgh, and injured a fourth as their car sat disabled alongside the highway.

According to court records, Mason Hartke of Jasper was visiting friends in Bloomington for the weekend before he tried to return home to Dubois County in the early hours of November 13. Hartke didn't make it home.

Instead, his truck veered off the road and slammed into the Rineharts' Honda Civic. 46-year-old David Rinehart; 74-year-old Ruth Ann Rinehart; and 17-year-old Sophie Rinehart all died in the crash. David Rinehart was a pastor at Crossroads Christian Church, and Sophie Rinehart was a student at Castle High School. 18-year-old Josie Rinehart survived and sustained injuries in the wreck.

Hartke was arrested on three counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death and three counts of reckless homicide. Hartke, who broke his arm in the crash, turned himself in and was released after posting bond. He was scheduled to appear in Greene Superior Court on December 13 at 11:30 a.m.

According to police, Hartke's blood-alcohol level was almost 0.16 percent more than two hours after the crash.

He told state police investigators he believed he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Investigators later confirmed that it did not appear that Hartke tried to brake before his 2006 Chevrolet Colorado truck hit the Rinehart car.

The crash investigation revealed that a Honda Civic, driven David Rinehart, was traveling southbound on I-69 and had struck a deer causing the Honda to pull onto the outside shoulder and come to a stop.

Afterward, a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck driven by Hartke was traveling southbound on I-69 approaching Rinehart's location when the truck left the southbound lanes of traffic and entered the outside shoulder, striking the parked Honda. Police estimated the truck was going about 76 mph when it hit the Civic.


A former special education teacher at Stalker Elementary School was found not guilty of battery.

A six-person jury found 62-year-old Orland McConnell not guilty of battery on a person younger than 14, a Level 6 felony.

McConnell, formerly a special education teacher at Stalker Elementary School, was accused of grabbing a student, forcing the 9-year-old into a chair and slamming the boy's head on a desk three times. He resigned after his arrest on June 12, 2015.

McConnell denied the charge, saying he was only trying to stop the boy from hurting himself.

According to testimony during the two day trail the boy suffers attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiance disorder and is bipolar and prone to having breakdowns.

It only took the jury about an hour to come back with a not guilty verdict.


A Monroe County accident investigation has found a Seals ambulance driver at fault in a November 5 fatal accident at the intersection of Ind. 37 and South Victor Pike.

Police say the ambulance driver, 35-year-old Joshua Davis of Williams, failed to use due regard at the intersection. He did not receive a citation at the scene. The case has been sent to the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office for review.

According to police, the Seals ambulance was traveling north on Ind. 37. The emergency lights and sirens were activated because they were transporting a critical patient to Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital. At the same time, a PT Cruiser driven by 61-year-old Mary Pietsch was on the east side of the intersection and proceeded west across Ind. 37.

Witnesses told police Pietsch had a green light to proceed through the intersection.

The ambulance struck the driver's side door of the PT Cruiser. The impact sent both vehicles into the median.
Pietsch was pronounced dead at the scene.


Maitlyn Alvey was crowned the 2017 Lawrence County Distinguished Young Woman.

The Bedford North Lawrence High School senior is daughter of Curt and Melissa Alvey and will now compete at the state level in Kokomo in February 2017. Alvey plans to study nursing after she graduates. Alvey won $2,300 in scholarship money.

Coming in second was Kara Parkes, who won $1,100. The third-place winner, Paige Courtright, was awarded $500, and a fourth winner, Kelsey Enlow, won $300. The spirit award went to Abby Banks, who received $250.

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