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Driver Arrested After Crashing Into Headstones and Flipping his Vehicle in Ottumwa Cemetery

By Ellis Codjoe, September 22, 2017

Ottumwa police and firefighters were called to the Ottumwa Cemetery Friday morning on reports of a vehicle on its top.

“We received reports of a reckless driver,” Police Sergeant Steve Kovacs told Ottumwa Radio News, “As we were responding, we were updated that the vehicle may have crashed.”

Kovacs says the driver of the vehicle, 21 year old Ryan Lawrence Gillen of Ottumwa, was driving under the influence at a high rate of speed at around 7:10 when he lost control.

The car struck at least four headstones before flipping onto its roof in one of the cemetery roads.

Kovacs says the driver then attempted to flee the scene.

Booking Photo Provided by the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department.

One passenger was injured and transported to the Ottumwa Regional Health Center. The driver and an additional passenger were both uninjured.

Gillen was arrested elsewhere in the cemetery and is facing a number of charges as a result of the incident. He’s been charged with first offense operating while intoxicated, driving while barred, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, public intoxication and interference with official acts.

A cemetery worker says at least four headstones may have been damaged, but says she hasn’t inspected the rest of the grounds for further damage.

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