Bender survives head-on crash
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · February 01, 2013

Despite a head-on collision on a foggy road north of Wellman, West Branch High School Head Boys Basketball Coach Stephen Bender said he received no serious injuries Monday night on his way to practice.

Bender said a woman driving in the opposite direction on Angle Road near 500th Street SW, close to Frytown in Johnson County, crossed the center line and crashed into his car.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said the accident was called in about 6:40 p.m. Monday, but that the accident report was not yet complete, so he did not have many details to release.

Bender on Tuesday posted a picture of his car on Twitter, showing the driver’s side front quarterpanel and headlight missing, a flat tire, a smashed hood and crumpled front fender.

The sheriff said the woman did not appear to be seriously injured, either, but she did ask to be checked out at a hospital and was transported to Mercy Hospital in Iowa City by a deputy in a squad car, not an ambulance.

Bender said he thought the woman was distracted, possibly talking on the phone, because he could see her coming and she did not seem to be trying to change direction.

Because of the fog, Bender said he could not see what was in the ditch and feared rolling his car if he pulled off the road to avoid the crash. He said he “hit the brakes” and slowed to about 40 to 45 miles per hour before impact. He believes the other driver was going about the same speed.

When a Johnson County deputy arrived on the scene, Bender said he signed a paper stating he did not want to be taken to a hospital. He said he hand and leg ached, but were “not bad,” and the deputy told him he would likely be “sore” the next day when his adrenaline wears off.

“That was true,” Bender said.

Bender said his airbag deployed in the crash.

Basketball practice was canceled, he said, because he did not want other coaches or players driving in the same fog.

“We have not had much preparation for the game tonight” against Wilton, which is 13-4, the coach said. “They’re pretty good. It will be a good challenge.”

Bender took to Twitter Monday night, tweeting “Feeling very sore after a lady crossed into my lane and hit me head on. Feel very blessed and thankful to be alive tonight.”

A little bit later, he added “My car wasn’t so lucky. It was totaled. I think I will be really sore tomorrow. Thank God that the lady was not killed either!”

Some of his Twitter followers expressed their relief the coach was not seriously hurt.

“Glad you were ok!” wrote Brad Kinsinger, a former WBHS teacher.

Tipton Conservative sports editor Ryan Stonebreaker wished him well.

“Always scary to hear of people you know or semi know involved in auto crashes,” he tweeted.

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