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Day of Tragedy: Man dies in 1-car accident

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A Columbus man died in an early-morning, single-car accident Friday on U.S. 31 in Jackson County, just south of the Bartholomew County line.

Kevin L. Jeffries, 49, Columbus, was pronounced dead at the scene, Jackson County Coroner Roger Wheeler said.

Jackson County Sheriff Michael Carothers said the crash, reported at 1:59 a.m., occurred just south of the bridge over Sand Creek, which is the dividing line between Jackson and Bartholomew counties.

Carothers, who lives about a half-mile from the scene, said Jeffries died when the 2004 Chevrolet Impala he was driving north left the road and hit a tree.

Jeffries worked at Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing Inc. in Seymour and had left work just before the crash.

Previously, he worked for many years at Products Engineering Co., in Columbus, as a tool and dye maker. PECO is partly owned by Rick Flohr, who called Jeffries a wonderful person.

“He was a guy who when I needed something done, he would say ‘I’m on it,’” Flohr said. “He was one of the guys you could count on.”

Flohr remembered one job he sent Jeffries to in Detroit, where the company balked at changes that needed to be made.

“I said ‘Just let Kevin do what he says needs done, and he can fix it.’ And he did,” Flohr said.

Flohr, who will take office Tuesday as Bartholomew County commissioner, will work with Jeffries’ widow, Tina, who is a secretary in the commissioners’ office.

Oscar Rains grew up with Jeffries in East Columbus, and the two were friends ever since. He remembered Jeffries as someone who was very helpful to everyone.

“One of the guys at work was having car trouble, and he helped him tear the car apart and put it together so it would run again,” Rains said.

“He was just a nice guy, always there to help everybody. Just a good friend.”

Wheeler said the results of an autopsy conducted by Dr. George Weir on Friday morning at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour showed Jeffries died of blunt force trauma.

Seymour firefighters were called to the scene to free Jeffries’ body from the vehicle, Carothers said.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Carothers said, adding that U.S. 31 was clear and dry at the time.

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