Two WKU students injured in early morning fiery collision

Michael Crimmins, Investigative Reporter

An accident involving one vehicle closed WKU’s Avenue of Champions from College Heights Boulevard to the intersection of Russellville Road for several hours Thursday morning.

Bowling Green police received a call about the accident around 1:47 a.m. and tweeted at 2:58 a.m. that the intersection at University Drive and Russellville Road was closed. 

“On 03/10/2022, I [the officer] responded to an accident with injury at the intersection of Russellville Road and University Boulevard,” the police narrative states. “The caller advised that a vehicle had flipped over, someone was trapped inside the vehicle and it was on fire.”

According to Ronnie Ward, public information officer for the Bowling Green Police Department, two WKU students, Benjamin Petty and Aiden Gilligan, were injured in the accident. Both were flown to a trauma center in Nashville, Ward said. Petty was the driver and Gilligan was the passenger.

“The southbound lanes [of the street] were open about 5:50 when we got the tow truck in there,” Ward said in a phone call.

Ward said the accident involved one black passenger vehicle that caught fire when the car hit a pole. According to the narrative, the car was a 2016 BMW with Tennessee license plates.

According to the narrative, the responding officer “attempted to speak with the driver Benjamin Petty, who was not answering my questions and seemed to be agitated.” There was no mention of the driver being intoxicated at the time. 

“No charges have been filed as of this release,” Ward said in an email.

According to the narrative, blood samples were taken and are being sent for further testing.

“This is standard procedure when a collision involves serious injury,” Ward said in an email.

“Several officers were on scene and spoke to several witnesses providing insight into the collision,” the narrative states. As a result, Ward said the full report has not been put into their system as many officers are writing “supplements” to the narrative.

Ward said that according to one witness, a WKU student named Jake Hester and “several other bystanders” assisted the driver out of the burning vehicle while two police officers tended to the passenger. 

Hester could not be reached for comment before publication, but the story will be updated as his statement becomes available.

Investigative Reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm.