Vehicular homicide charge filed in Highland County church incident


By Jeff Gilliland - jgilliland@timesgazette.com



HILLSBORO — A 72-year-old man is face a charge of negligent vehicular homicide more than a month after an incident at New Life Church & Ministries, just south of Hillsboro, left a woman dead.

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said Monday that one of his deputies investigated the incident, turned the results of the investigation over to Hillsboro Law Director Fred Beery, and that it was Beery that decided to file the first-degree misdemeanor charge.

Leesburg resident Robert Hester faces up to six months in jail and a mandatory license suspension of up to five years, according to reports.

The accident happened Sept. 10 during the church’s weekly Friday free food giveaway.

At that time, Barrera said his office received a call at 12:56 p.m. from New Life Church & Ministries on S.R. 247, just south of Hillsboro, with the caller advising that a women had been ran over in the food pantry parking lot.

Sandy Ray, 63, who had served as a volunteer at the church for 15 years, was struck and run over while she was putting a cone down in the parking lot, according to reports.

Barrera said Ray was struck by a vehicle driven by Hester. He said Ray was trying to direct Hester to stop his vehicle at a designated location when Hester’s foot slipped off the brake pedal and hit the gas pedal.

Ray was transferred by the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District to Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro, where she was pronounced deceased, according to Barrera.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

By Jeff Gilliland

jgilliland@timesgazette.com