Man resigns from college board after Dec. arrest in connection w - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man resigns from college board after Dec. arrest in connection with deadly hit and run

Ben Ressel (Source: Poplar Bluff PD) Ben Ressel (Source: Poplar Bluff PD)
Randel Sparks (Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department) Randel Sparks (Source: Poplar Bluff Police Department)
Heavenly Hafford (Source: Family) Heavenly Hafford (Source: Family)
Officers responded to the intersection of Highway PP and Maud Street around 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 9, according to the Poplar Bluff Police Department. (Source: Sherae Honeycutt, KFVS) Officers responded to the intersection of Highway PP and Maud Street around 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 9, according to the Poplar Bluff Police Department. (Source: Sherae Honeycutt, KFVS)
A memorial remains more than a week after Heavenly Hafford was killed in a hit and run on Dec. 9. (Source: Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS) A memorial remains more than a week after Heavenly Hafford was killed in a hit and run on Dec. 9. (Source: Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS)
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

A Poplar Bluff man previously arrested in connection with a deadly hit and run has resigned from his position on the Board of Trustees at Three Rivers College.

According to Jonathan Atwood, coordinator of media services at Three Rivers, Ben Ressel submitted his resignation to the board at their meeting on Wednesday night, Feb. 17 and it was accepted.

He offered no further comment.

Ben Ressel, 38, of Poplar Bluff was booked by police on a charge of felony leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

Police say Ressel was driving a black F-150 suspected in the hit and run.

He was arrested on Dec. 18 at 8:45 a.m. by members of the Poplar Bluff Police Department and taken to the Butler County Jail. He was released that same day.

Ressel's black F-150 was impounded on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and processed for physical evidence on Thursday.

Ressel was a vice president at First Midwest Bank. 

In December, Dale Dickerson, executive vice president at First Midwest Bank in Poplar Bluff, said Ressel was suspended from his position with the bank effective immediately.

"We were saddened by this young woman's death and her family's great loss," Dickerson said. "We deeply regret that an employee is a suspect. The police will have our full cooperation if we can be of any assistance."

He was suspended up until his resignation, which was on Feb. 1.

Dickerson said his resignation was accepted and he could not comment on if it was a mutual decision or Ressel's own.

Ressel was also the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Three Rivers College. At the time of his arrest, the college declined to comment.

Poplar Bluff police released the following statement following Ressel's arrest.

"All law enforcement officers feel a deep obligation to seek justice for the victims of crime, and for their families. But this obligation is balanced by a duty to protect the rights of the accused, and (as frustrating as it may be at times) we must complete a thorough investigation.  Putting someone in jail quickly may give the public immediate satisfaction; but it means nothing if we can’t prosecute them in a court of law."

The driver of another vehicle involved in the incident, Randel C. Sparks, 42, appeared in court on Monday, Dec. 21 where he motioned for a bond reduction. The court took his request under advisement.

The case is set for review on Jan. 4, 2016 at 9:05 a.m. in front of Judge Thomas Swindle in Butler County.

He will appear in court on March 21 for his preliminary hearing.

Sparks was arrested and charged with several crimes including leaving the scene of a crash.

He is the owner of the light blue Volkswagon Beetle that authorities say hit Heavenly Hafford.

The 13 year old died after she was hit by a car and then a truck.

Officers responded to the intersection of Highway PP and Maud Street around 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 9, according to the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

Police say the teen was walking in the road when she was hit by a light blue Volkswagen Beetle that left the scene.

The probable cause statement says the victim had been hit by a second vehicle, a black Ford F-150, and had also left the scene.

During the course of the investigation, police say they were directed by witnesses to a storage unit business, where they found the Beetle.

The car had damage and missing pieces that were consistent with pieces of evidence found at the crash site.

The front bumper of the car had been removed and was allegedly being cleaned with some sort of chemical.

Sparks was then arrested and taken to the Butler County Justice Center.

The Poplar Bluff Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Crash Team and Division of Crime Control investigated. Police say the investigation was greatly assisted by leads provided by numerous concerned citizens of our community.

The case is still under investigation.

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