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Man dies in crash on Ga. 87

A passenger in one car was killed and the driver of the other car was arrested in connection with that death in a crash early Sunday morning on Ga. 87 near Lucas Road in Bleckley County, according to a Georgia State Patrol trooper.

Phillip Bender Jr., 30, of Cochran, the driver of a 2008 Chevrolet Impala, was charged with vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, reckless driving, failing to maintain lane, following too close, open container, no seat belt and driving on a limited driver’s license, Trooper Chad Harrison said.

Bender was being held Sunday in the Bleckley County jail.

The victim was identified as Rivera Garcia, 28, of Warner Robins, Harrison said.

Garcia was a passenger in a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina driven by Angel Osena, 18, of Hawkinsville. Osena was cited for driving without a driver’s license but did not contribute to the wreck, the trooper said.

Osena “was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Harrison said.

Osena and the other passengers in the car — Monica Garcia, 31, of Warner Robins, Ismael Rosales, 31, of Warner Robins, Mayolo Lopez, 23, of Warner Robins and Jose Rayes, 18, of Hawkinsville — were all treated and released from Bleckley Memorial Hospital in Cochran, Harrison said.

Bender was also treated and released from the same hospital before being transported to jail, the trooper said.

The 12:03 a.m. crash occurred when Bender ran his car into the rear end of the other as both were traveling south on Ga. 87.

The impact caused the driver of the Lumina to lose control, with the car vaulting and overturning several times before coming to rest in the west-side ditch, trooper said. Bender’s car also overturned and landed in the east-side ditch.

The crash closed that section Ga. 87 for about four hours, with detours set up, the trooper said.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.

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