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Friends ‘shocked’ by charges in crash that killed Highland Co. church volunteer

Those close to Sandy Ray say she wouldn’t have wanted the man accused to spend time behind bars.
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 9:41 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2021 at 9:38 AM EDT
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HIGHLAND COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A man has been charged in connection with the September crash that killed a church volunteer.

Robert Hester, 72, is being charged on one count of vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, according to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.

On Sept. 10, authorities say Hester was driving on the property of the New Life Church & Ministries when he hit 63-year-old Sandy Ray.

Ray, who had volunteered at the church for 15 years, was putting a cone down in front of the truck when she was hit, according to witness Linda Bowman, the assistant pastor at New Life.

Ray was later pronounced dead at Highland District Hospital.

Michelle Pegram and Hilda Hamilton, both friends of Ray, say they are still grieving Ray’s death.

They say her loss has changed the mood at the church. They also say they feel for the man who hit and killed Sandy.

Hilda saw Ray’s death first-hand and maintains it was an accident. “It was a horrible day. I witnessed everything. Everything was just very slow motion.”

Pegram had just seen Ray when the crash happened. She describes the aftermath as surreal.

She was also “pretty shocked,” in her words, to learn about the charge against Hester, who faces up to six months in jail and a mandatory license suspension for up to five years.

“I don’t think Sandy would’ve wanted that,” Pegram said, who adds she thought the crash was an accident as well.

Hilda says Hester simply didn’t see Sandy putting the cone down next to his car.

“I think he just panicked. He hit the gas instead of the brake, because everyone was yelling ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’” Hilda recalled.

Highland County church volunteer killed in accident
Highland County church volunteer killed in accident

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