The Herald Bulletin

September 12, 2013

Day care employee feared co-worker was in fatal Middletown accident

Survivors recovering at Indianapolis area hospitals

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

---- — MIDDLETOWN — Adina Jacobs knew when the sirens started blaring Tuesday evening that the accident near her home was a bad one.

Two people, Clifton Shane Thompson, 28, of Middletown, and Caroline Bateman, 22, of Pendleton, died in the two-vehicle accident at the intersection of Mechanicsburg Road and West County Road 825 North, according to the Henry County Sheriff's Department.

Jacobs also worried because the intersection was a route that her friend and co-worker, Le Andra Penn, 21, frequently took home. Both women are day care providers at Anderson Christian School.

"I heard the sirens and started calling my friend Le Andra's cell phone ... just to make sure," Jacobs recalled Wednesday.

When Penn didn't answer her phone, Jacobs' husband drove as close as he could to the accident scene and returned with a description of the vehicles. Jacobs recognized one of the cars, a black 2002 Pontiac Sunfire.

"When he described the car I knew immediately," Jacobs said. "I panicked. Nobody wants to know a friend is hurt."

Jacobs called police and area hospitals. When she learned Penn had been transported to Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, she headed that way. While en route, she called friends to start a prayer circle for all of the five accident victims.

Penn was driving by herself about 6 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to sheriff's investigators.

In the other vehicle were Thompson, Bateman, Cheyanna Ball, 19, of Markleville, and Isaiah Stone, 25, of Anderson. Stone was driving a 2002 Saturn which reportedly ran the stop sign at the intersection. Ball and Stone also went to area hospitals.

Penn suffered a broken right leg and fractured arm. She was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and underwent surgery Wednesday morning. She is recovering, Jacobs said.

Penn was coming home from her job as a day care worker at Anderson Christian School, 2625 Lindberg Road. She was about a mile from her house when the accident occurred, said an aunt, Sally Dwiggens, who lives with her niece on Mechanicsburg Road.

Jacobs arrived at the hospital before Penn's immediate family, and stayed with her friend. "We're overwhelmingly grateful that Le Andra survived and that she's going to heal. At the same time, we're praying for all the families of those involved."

Tom Snell, administrator of Anderson Christian School, said special prayers were said during chapel for Penn, who's worked at the school for about a year. In addition, a letter was prepared for parents, and a fund to assist with medical costs was started.

Jacobs said Penn "has a huge heart and the kids love her."

Kevin Brown, Ball's stepfather, said she was thrown from the vehicle by the force of the collision. So was Thompson, her boyfriend of two years.

"We have no idea where they were going or what they were doing," Brown said.

He said Ball is a 2011 graduate of Pendleton Heights High School, and was scheduled to start work Wednesday at Ollie's Bargain Outlet at the River Ridge Plaza shopping center on Scatterfield Road. Ollie's is a discount outlet store that's scheduled to open in early October.

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