A report obtained by 5 On Your Side Investigators reveals several, serious mistakes were made by the Ohio National Guard in the days and hours leading up to a Humvee crash that killed a father and his 6-year-old son.
In the report, investigators found “Leadership Failure” and “Driver/Crew Inexperience” directly contributed to the crash.
Bryan Bargar, 34, and his 6-year-old son Wyatt Bentley were killed on Sept. 10, 2016 when an Ohio National Guard Humvee, driven by 21-year-old Jeremy Taylor, crashed head-on into Bargar’s Kia Optima on State Route 14 in Ravenna Township.
Among the contributing factors: there was no officer inside the Humvee, the four guardsmen in the vehicle had “minimal experience” driving a Humvee on civilian roads and the crew deviated from its original plan to spend the night at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, according to the National Guard's report.
The report also found guard members were allowed only three hours to sleep after two days of training before departing from Camp Perry to Camp Ravenna in Ravenna on the afternoon of the crash.
“If they were drilling the night before and then got three hours of sleep and had to drill again the next day and drive home. I mean, why did they do that to them?" said Denise Snyder, Bargar’s sister.
Snyder's attorney provided the report to 5 On Your Side Investigators after he obtained the information from the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor’s office charged 21-year-old Jeremy Taylor, the driver of the Humvee, with two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
However, when Snyder’s attorney requested a copy of the same report, along with other information about Taylor, the Humvee, and the crash, he received a letter stating it would take the National Guard Bureau until November 2019 to fulfill his request.
5 On Your Side Investigators submitted a similar request and received a similar answer. We were told our request would be complete in August 2019.
We asked the Ohio National Guard why it released the completed, unclassified, public report to the prosecutor’s office, but not Snyder, her attorney, or 5 On Your Side Investigators.
We have not received a response.
However, in a previous e-mail, Stephanie Beougher, Public Information Officer, Ohio National Guard Office of Public Affairs, wrote " The Ohio National Guard does not have the authority to release the documents. This investigation is a federal record and for all federal records of the 54 state and territory National Guards, the National Guard Bureau is the FOIA denial authority that must release any National Guard records containing any redaction."
Beougher also included information about how the guard responded to the report. In the e-mail, she wrote, "There were reprimands issued in response to the leadership failures related to the 2016 crash. Additional action is possible pending the outcome of the civilian criminal case. Because the safety of our members and community is one of our main priorities, every Soldier and Airman goes through annual safety training and frequent refresher training."
Snyder said the crash report provided answers she sought about her brother's death.
The report also raised more questions.
"I know there's got to be more out there," she said.
For example, Snyder said she wants to know what occurred inside the Humvee in the moments before the crash, what kind of training the guard members were involved in the day of the crash, and how many hours of sleep the guard members had the night before the incident.
While she knows the answers won't bring back her brother and his son, she hopes they will provide her closure.
"They...took two very important people out of my life," she said.