A Bethel resident is behind bars and a Batavia Police Officer is on administrative leave after an accident on Foundry Avenue in Batavia Sunday afternoon.
Kenneth Mathers, 59, of Bethel was driving a Duke Energy truck east of the railroad bridge when he allegedly went left of center and struck a mini-van and a passenger vehicle at about 2:44 p.m. May 9.
According to the Batavia Police Department, three of the five occupants of the mini-van were transported to area hospitals. One was transported by Central Joint EMS and one by Pierce Township EMS to Mercy Clermont. The third was taken by AirCare to University Hospital. As of Wednesday, two of the injured occupants remained hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the passenger vehicle and Mathers were uninjured.
Batavia Police Chief Mike Gardner said an investigation into the accident found that a Batavia Police officer had "prior contact" with Mathers at Sycamore Park on state Route 132 before the accident. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Mathers is being held in Clermont County Jail on a $40,000 bond and had was expected to enter a plea Friday.
Duke Energy representative Sally Thelen said Mathers has been with the company for 41 years and has his CDL. She said he was driving a large boom truck carrying a utility pole to the scene of another accident where a car had broken a Duke pole.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families," Thelen said.
Mathers is currently on administrative leave and Thelen said Duke is conducting its own investigation to coincide with the police investigation.
"We take safety very seriously," Thelen said.
She declined to comment on Mather's work history.
Mathers has had arrests on alcohol related charges. In 1997 he was found guilty of DUI and last year he was arrested in the parking lot of William Bick Primary School in Bethel on a Friday. In the 2009 incident, Mathers was found with two bottles of Canadian whiskey in his car, one of which was empty. He pleaded guilty to having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and the open container charge was dismissed.