Two die in dune buggy mishap

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 6, 2003

COAL GROVE - Two men were killed late Sunday afternoon when the dune buggy they were in fell off a hill and came crashing down along U.S. 52.

The driver, Eric Benge, 29, of McKnight St., Westwood, Ky., and a passenger, Jeremy Cooksey, 25, of West New Buckley Road, Ashland, Ky., were pronounced dead at the scene by Bill Nenni, assistant Lawrence County coroner.

They were riding in the vehicle on trails popular for ATV and dune buggy owners.

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The dune buggy fell an estimated 75-100 feet from one hill and then another 173 feet from another before coming to rest at the area facing the Ashland, Ky., bridge along U.S. 52, according to

Officer Bob Bowles of the Coal Grove Police Department.

Bowles said Benge had apparently got out of the dune buggy to put air in the tires while the vehicle's back side was facing the cliff. When he got back into the vehicle and began to drive away, Benge apparently thought he had the vehicle in first gear, but it was in reverse, Bowles said.

Benge and Cooksey were in one dune buggy while Cooksey's mother, Debbie Cooksey of Westwood, and Leonard Green Jr. of Cattletsburg, Ky., were in another and witnessed the accident.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton said the two men died instantly.

"This was a terrible, terrible tragedy," Sexton said at the scene of the accident Sunday.

Sgt. Eric Spurlock of the Coal Grove Police Department said he is not sure who owns the property on which the accident took place, but riders have several ways to access the trails.

"Some go out by The Cold Spot (Carryout) and others go out (State Route) 243 - there are several ways people can get up there," Spurlock said. "In fact, The Cold Spot put up concrete barriers to try to keep people from going up there."

Several agencies, including the Coal Grove Police Department, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Coal Grove Volunteer Fire Department and the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department responded.