Man dies following accident

A Bartholomew County man died following an early morning crash.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of Shady Lane and U.S. 31 — on the northwest side of Columbus — about 3:10 a.m. Saturday after receiving a report of an accident. Deputies said they were told a male, identified as Dale Ayers, 45, of Taylorsville, allegedly had rammed his pickup into a passenger car driven by Michael Smiley, 44, of Flat Rock, according to a news release.

Smiley told Sgt. Gary Knoef that Ayres left the accident heading westbound on Shady Lane. Knoef located Ayres’ red pickup on its side on the north side of Shady Lane on County Road 200W, and Ayres was dead at the scene, the release stated.

Ayres’ truck left the roadway and struck several trees and a utility pole. Ayres suffered multiple injuries to his chest and abdomen, which were instantly fatal, Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher said.

Fisher added that Ayres was wearing a seatbelt and that alcohol did not appear to contribute to the accident. Toxicology results to determine if any drugs were in Ayres’ system are pending, Fisher said.

This investigation is ongoing.

Saturday’s fatality is the 10th the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department has investigated this year, compared to four last year, said Judy Jackson, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.

Detective Sgt. Chad Swank, Detective Jason Williams, Sgt. T.A. Smith, Deputy Teancum Clark and Deputy Adam DeBoth assisted deputies.

Indiana State Police, Columbus Township Fire Department, German Township Fire Department, Columbus Regional Hospital Ambulance and Duke Energy also assisted.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.