GREENFIELD — A simple, wooden cross with heartfelt words stands where Phillip “Matt” Jones lost his life.
The married father of two and co-owner of Phil Jones and Son Construction was driving home to McCordsville about 5 p.m. Thursday when he was involved in a two-vehicle accident at CRs 400W and 200N.
Less than 24 hours after the accident, friends were writing messages on a memorial at the rural intersection where he was fatally injured.
“Forever loved and missed, you were a great friend.”
“We will always remember you.”
“I hope I can be half the man you were.”
Many questions remain about the accident, which remains under investigation.
Jones, 32, was driving a truck northbound on CR 400W. A car driven by 17-year-old Jacqueline Thomas of Greenfield was traveling westbound on CR 200N, and the vehicles collided.
According to Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Campbell, Thomas said she had stopped at the intersection before proceeding and did not see a vehicle coming.
Jones did not have a stop sign. At impact, Jones’ truck flipped. Jones, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Thomas and her two teenage passengers did not have serious injuries, though they were transported to Hancock Regional Hospital for examination.
Campbell said there was no indication Thomas had been texting or using a cell phone; nor was there any indication she was distracted by one of the passengers.
Another vehicle had traveled eastbound through the intersection just before the accident, which Campbell said could have distracted Thomas. Other obstructions at the intersection include tall corn and a utility pole.
Campbell said he is still investigating the accident and does not yet know the speed the vehicles were traveling.
The accident is one of many over the years at the intersection, said Amy Hoepner, who has lived there 21 years. Hoepner said this marks the first fatality even though the crossing can be harrowing. It’s not unusual, she said, that traffic on CR 200N doesn’t stop at CR 400W, even though signs state northbound and southbound traffic does not stop.
“It happens all the time, and we’re really saddened to see it end this way,” Hoepner said, adding that she hopes something is done to make the intersection safer.
Campbell said accidents have happened there over the years but did not have data on how often.
Brent Hager was one of the friends who stopped at the site Friday to write a message on the cross set up for Jones. He doesn’t know who put it up, but when he drove by and saw it, he knew he had to sign it with a simple, “You will be missed.”
“He was phenomenal,” Hager said. “He was relaxed, he was quiet but also had the jokes, that person that has the one-liners that comes in.”
Hager added Jones’ friends often spent time together at Jones’ home.
“Everybody gravitated to him…,” Hager said. “He was relaxed and didn’t stress; was just a good person to hang out with.”
Jones, a 1998 graduate of Mt. Vernon high School, was married to Nicole; they had two children.