Authorities identify man killed in wreck near Dutchtown

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The Cape Girardeau County coroner has identified the Pennsylvania man killed in a car wreck discovered Friday morning on Highway A near Dutchtown.

John Clifton says Andrew George Kohler, 57, died when his White Lincoln went off the road and down into a deep ravine.

The man who found Kohler's wreck says he'd driven by it several times in the past few days.  But this morning, he had reason to take a closer look.

"We had a customer call into the store this morning and said he thought he saw a car," Steve Wessel said.

Wessel, manager of the Coop Service Center at Whitewater, grabbed a co-worker and took the familiar trip out to farmland just west of Dutchtown.

"We drove by real slow and saw the car at the bottom of the ditch," Wessel said. The two men quickly pulled over.

"And then you got out and just kind of walked up to here?" I asked. "Just walked basically until right in here," Wessel said as he walked over the matted down grass and dirt.

Wessel says he couldn't really see anything until he got right up to this opening.

Both sight and smell, he says, had him immediately calling police.

"You could tell there was brush on top of the one door that somebody could have crawled out of that was not disturbed, so it kind of gave you the idea that there might be something wrong," Wessel said.

Emergency crews arrived, and carefully pulled the damaged Lincoln Town car from the deep ravine. Coroner John Clifton says he found a badly decomposed body inside, that process exaggerated by a closed car in this stifling heat.

"So, it's very difficult to try to do a real good guess as to how long he's been dead but, I'd say three to four days would be reasonable," said Clifton.

"We don't think it's foul play," said Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Mark Winder. "Just simply an accident that was in a location that was not easily seen from the road."

Steve Wessel went back and told his customer what he found.  A sad ending, but at least a mystery solved, thanks to a local farmer watching out for his friends.

"And is that his land?" I asked Steve Wessel. "No, no", Wessel responded. "He was just driving by from one farm to another."

Coroner John Clifton says one more mystery does remain.  He says Kohler's daughter-in-law had no idea why he was traveling in Cape Girardeau County.

The search for that answer continues.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.