Police say Bell then lied to them, and that he intended to leave the crash scene without telling medical personnel that there had been an accident or that his girlfriend’s body was still inside the SUV.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Bell initially told police that Reed was the one driving the 2000 Ford Explorer when she lost control.
But when medics were treating Bell, an Indiana State Police trooper noticed that he had an abrasion on his chest that appeared to be from the driver’s side seat belt, according to the affidavit. Bell later admitted that he had been at the wheel when the SUV crashed.
Bell was not supposed to be driving because his license had been suspended, and he had outstanding arrest warrants from Pennsylvania, where he lives, according to the affidavit. Authorities also say that Bell didn’t call police while he was stuck inside the vehicle despite having a cellphone and a signal.
Bell told police that he couldn’t find his or Reed’s cellphone to make a call. When he got out of the SUV, he found his phone on the ground, the affidavit said. He texted “car accident” to his boss before his phone died. He told police he didn’t know why he didn’t call 911 instead.
Bell was charged Tuesday with two felonies — driving while suspended resulting in death and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death — as well as three misdemeanors, including failure to report a dead body.
The crash happened off U.S. Route 50 in Jennings County, Ind., on Sept. 17, when Bell, 39, and Reed, 37, were driving from Pennsylvania to Indiana. Reed, of Seymour, Ind., had traveled to Pennsylvania to pick up her boyfriend and promised to return in time for her son’s birthday, her family members said on Facebook.
Reed’s daughter told police that she had last spoken with her mother shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 17. The two talked via FaceTime, and Reed told her daughter that she would be home in about an hour, the affidavit said. During the conversation, Reed appeared to be sitting in the front passenger seat of her SUV.
On Sept. 18, after Reed didn’t show up for her son’s birthday, her ex-husband called police, according to the affidavit.
Two days later, shortly after 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, a passerby spotted Bell near a guardrail on U.S. Route 50 and called for help. Bell, according to the affidavit, did not initially tell police that he had been in the crash or that his girlfriend’s body was in the Explorer.
After a records check on Bell’s name and driver’s license, a state trooper found that he was the person known to be with Reed when she was reported missing, the affidavit said.
When the trooper asked where Reed was, Bell had a surprised look on his face and told police that she was still in the vehicle down the ravine, the affidavit said.
Bell’s mother, Gloria Bell, told the York Daily Record that the crash was an accident and her son didn’t try to kill Reed.
“I feel bad for him,” she told the paper. “I just am praying that things go well out there for him and that the judge would show mercy on him.”
Bell has an active warrant for his arrest, though no foul play is suspected in Reed’s death. An autopsy found that she died because of a broken neck and blunt force trauma.
Amy B Wang contributed to this report.