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 Officials Seem Reluctant to Provide Accident Details

   Carthage Fire Truck Involved in Main Street Mishap

July 30, 2008 - Local officials have been slow to provide details about a recent two-vehicle accident involving a Carthage Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD) fire truck in front of the Carthage fire station.

Carthage resident Josh Miller, 33, was driving his 1979 International Scout south on Main Street shortly after noon on Saturday, July 19, when a CVFD fire truck struck his passenger side as it was pulling out of the fire department garage. According to Miller, the fire truck did not have its emergency lights or siren activated as it exited the fire station, and was not on an emergency run.

Dazed from the accident, Miller said his vehicle continued down the road a little ways before he came to a stop. After a couple of minutes, he said he put his vehicle in reverse and backed up to the fire station.

Miller said many of the CVFD members who were on the scene had gone back inside the station by that time. He said one member who was across the street came over and asked if he was OK.

According to Miller, his girlfriend, Starr Keller, arrived on the scene about 15 minutes later. After she said, "This really stinks," Miller said Boyd Duncan, the CVFD's fire chief, swore at her.

"He said he didn't want to hear any (expletive) about it," Miller said. "He said that to her twice. I live with Starr and I don't talk to her like that, and I don't expect anybody else to.”

The Banner made several attempts to contact Duncan at home and at the fire station on Monday and Tuesday. He had not returned messages left for him as of the newspaper's news deadline.

Miller told the newspaper it took about 40 minutes for Carthage Police Department reserve officer Brad Rogers to arrive at the accident scene. He said Rogers first went into the fire station to speak with CVFD members, then came out to talk to him about 10 minutes later.

According to Miller, Rogers did not provide him with the CVFD's insurance information, so he had to personally go up to the station and ask for it. Miller said he learned the driver of the fire truck that hit him was the fire chief's son.

The Banner was not able to confirm the identity of the fire truck’s driver before going to press. This was due to Duncan not responding to messages the newspaper left for him, and The Banner’s inability to get a copy of the accident report by the news deadline for this week’s issue.

Ten or 15 minutes after he and Keller returned to their home on North Main Street, Miller said Rogers came “speeding up to the house.” He said Rogers said witnesses claimed to have smelled alcohol on him and he demanded that Miller take a sobriety test, which Miller refused.

The Banner attempted to contact Rogers for comment about this story. Like Duncan, however, he also did not return The Banner’s call as of Tuesday afternoon.

"I had not been drinking," Miller told the Banner. "If there was any question about that, you would think it would have come up at the accident scene." Besides Rogers, Miller also said there was a Rush County Sheriff's Deputy he spoke with at the accident scene and that neither officer had indicated they thought he was under the influence.

After refusing to take a sobriety test, Miller said he went in the house. Keller told The Banner she stayed outside and asked Rogers to leave numerous times, which, she said, prompted the officer to threaten to arrest her for disorderly conduct.

Miller said he called 911 and that the RCSD officer who was at the accident scene, Dep. Sgt. Dave Sliger, soon arrived. Acting at the request of Miller and Keller, Sliger confirmed that he urged Rogers to leave, and that the reserve officer did so.

Speaking to The Banner on Tuesday, Sliger said he sensed tension when he arrived at Keller’s and Miller’s home. He said he thought that tension between them and Rogers seemed to be the result of more than just the events of that day.

Both Miller and Keller said they felt Rogers acted unprofessionally in the way he responded to this incident. Keller also said it's not her first problem with the reserve officer.

According to Keller, Rogers tried to pull her over on Carthage Pike last Thanksgiving Day while he was driving his personal vehicle. Because he was not in uniform or in a marked patrol car, she said she did not stop.

The Banner tried to get a copy of the accident report from Carthage Town Marshal Dan Murphy. When the newspaper contacted Murphy on Monday, his first response was, "And why would you guys need a copy of that?"

After The Banner explained that accident reports are public records, Murphy then said he would first need to check with both parties to the accident. He said if they didn't have a problem with him releasing it, then he would.

The Banner again explained to Murphy that, as a public record, it did not matter what the parties to the accident thought about him releasing the accident report. As of Tuesday afternoon, the CPD had still not made a copy of the accident report available to the newspaper.


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