Created on Friday, 21 February 2014 Written by JOEL E. MAST
Gunnery Sgt. Monica Plank
Investigators released a video Thursday they hope will spur three motorists to come forward and talk to them about what they saw around the time Marine Gunnery Sgt. Monica Plank was fatally struck Sunday.
“This is a critical piece of evidence that we think can shed new light for the witnesses, who may or may not realize what they saw,” Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley said. “We’re at that point in the investigation where we are waiting on the one call that could help bring resolution for the family.
“We hope the motorists will call us and come into talk us.”
The video from Grand Rental Station, 936 S. Main St., mainly focuses on the southeastern section of the business’ yard but south Main Street is visible in the background.
Gunnery Sgt. Plank and her husband, Chris Plank, also a gunnery sergeant, walk out of view of the camera several hundred feet south of the Blue Jacket Creek overpass where the mother of three was struck by a vehicle around 12:16 a.m.
Covering a span of 50 seconds of real time — about the time it takes to walk the 365 feet to the overpass — the video shows three vehicles: a car that followed eight seconds after the Planks walked out of view; a sport utility vehicle at the 37-second mark; and another car at the 45-second mark.
Chief Standley said officers learned of the video and viewed it on Monday but they did not get a copy of it until Tuesday. The chief transported it to the Ohio Organized Crime Unit to enhance the video on Wednesday.
He said the investigation into the 34-year-old Marine’s death is utilizing local, state and federal resources.
Officers have been working on the case since Sunday and have talked with a number of witnesses, including one who said the SUV in the video followed him up County Road 18 to Lake Avenue and turned northbound onto Main.
Chief Standley said Chris Plank has been fully cooperative with the investigation. He and his family are aware of the video and he has viewed it as part of the investigation.
The Planks were on leave with her three children and his two, visiting his family in the area.
They had been at 68 Grill, 1141 S. Main St., and she walked off during a disagreement, declining an offer of a ride from another person in their party.
Chris Plank paid his bill and followed after her.
She was walking northbound in the roadway because sidewalks were piled deep with snow and ice. Her husband was 10 to 20 yards behind her.
She was transported to Mary Rutan Hospital and later flown to Grant Medical Center in Columbus where she died from her injuries.
Gunnery Sgt. Monica Plank served a tour in Afghanistan from August 2010 to May 2011 with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467, achieving the rank of gunnery sergeant in 2009.
A 161⁄2 -year Marine, she was serving as a sergeant instructor at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, Quantico, Va., and was a member of a team that trained platoons of Marine Corps officer candidates.
A funeral is at noon Saturday at the West Liberty United Church of Christ, West Liberty, where visitation begins at 10:30 a.m. Burial with full military honors is in Fairview Cemetery, West Liberty.
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