Man gets 4-year sentence in death of local woman

A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the death of a Seymour woman in a September 2016 crash.

Kevin Eugene Bell, 40, of Dover, Pennsylvania, received that sentence in Jennings Circuit Court after Judge Jonathan W. Webster accepted his plea deal with the state. That deal called for Bell to plead guilty to driving while suspended resulting in the death of another person, a Level 5 felony, in exchange for the dismissal of four other charges.

The plea deal stems from a Sept. 17, 2016, crash that claimed the life of Nikki Reed, 37, of Seymour.

According to police reports, Bell and Reed, a mother of three, were traveling to a birthday party in Seymour when Reed’s 1999 Ford Explorer, driven by Bell, left the roadway and struck a tree. The wreck occurred in the 8600 block of East U.S. 50 in Jennings County near the Ripley County line.

Reed’s family reported her missing Sept. 18, 2016, after she failed to return from a trip to pick up Bell.

Bell, who sustained a broken leg in the crash, remained in the vehicle for three days before emerging from the vehicle, crawling up an embankment and stopping motorists for help, police said.

Bell did not initially tell police about the wreck or Reed’s involvement.

He told Indiana State Police Master Trooper Rick Hewitt that he had fallen from the guardrail and down the embankment.

During a driver’s license check, officers discovered Bell and Reed were part of a missing persons investigation. When asked about Reed, Bell told officers she was in the car down the ravine, police said.

Bell later admitted he had been driving when the wreck occurred and said Reed didn’t live long after the wreck. He said he spent 48 hours in the sport utility vehicle because his mobility was limited.

Bell was arrested Oct. 10, 2016, after his release from St. Vincent Hospital.

He received 464 days of credit for time served from the time of his arrest.

As part of the plea agreement, the state agreed to dismiss charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, failure to report a dead body and false informing.

Jennings County Deputy Prosecutor Drew Dickerson said he was satisfied with the sentencing.

“It was above the advisory sentence, which was appropriate,” he said.

The court advised a three-year sentence, Dickerson said.