Terre Haute man accused in Jasper County fatal hit-and-run tuns himself in

Joseph Bland, 43 of Terre Haute is facing one charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death. Court documents show Bland bonded out of the Jasper County Jail on Monday. His bond was set at $1,500.

Posted: Dec 11, 2018 4:38 PM

RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) — A felony charge has been filed against the semi driver accused in a high-profile Rensselaer fatal hit-and-run case.

Joseph Bland, 43 of Terre Haute is facing one charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death. Court documents show Bland bonded out of the Jasper County Jail on Monday. His bond was set at $1,500.

New court documents also allege Bland did not make a complete stop at the intersection of U.S 231 and State Road 16, prior to the crash.

A warrant for Bland's arrest was issued on Nov. 20. The Jasper County Sheriff's Office said Bland turned himself in Saturday around 1 p.m.

Reporter phone calls to the prosecutor's office, beginning Nov. 22, were not returned. News 18 has been following the story since October.

According to a probable cause affidavit, on Oct. 10 a witness saw a red car hit and drive under a semi at the intersection of State Road 16 and US 231 in Rensselaer. The witness said he exited his car and tried to flag down the tractor driver. He then explained that the semi appeared to slow to a stop after the crash, but then kept driving. The driver of the car, 40-year-old Melissa Deno of Rensselaer, died at the scene.

The crash was filmed on surveillance cameras from Rose Acre Farms, located on the northeast side of the intersection. According to court documents, the video shows the semi driving on State Road 16 and approaching the US 231 intersection. The semi then begins to slow down, but does not make a complete stop at the intersection. Documents state that the car passed completely through the underside of the trailer.

The trailer was found in East St. Louis two days after the crash. The cab was not found.

Bland has an initial court hearing set for Dec. 18.

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office had originally sought a charge of reckless homicide, however it was reduced by then-county prosecutor Christine Bogan. Bogan resigned on Nov. 30, the office confirmed. Joseph Morrison is serving as the interim until prosecutor-elect Jacob Taulman takes over Jan. 1.

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