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Published: Saturday, 3/26/2005

Crash victim's body is unnoticed 9 hours

CINCINNATI - Parents of a woman whose body lay along I-75 after a traffic accident are questioning why no one, including police and a tow truck driver, found her for almost nine hours.

Investigators are not sure what happened to Niccole Smith Mechley, 21, whose body was found Wednesday morning along the southbound lane of I-75 on the city's west side.

Accident reconstruction specialists are trying to determine what caused the crash, but police speculate that Ms. Mechley's car may have spun out of control in the rain and hit something. She was thrown out of her car onto the side of the road.

Ms. Mechley's mother, Desilu Smith, said she talked to her daughter about 9:55 p.m. Tuesday and she was heading to work in Covington, Ky.

A Cincinnati police officer and a tow truck driver were called to the scene by a suburban police officer who noticed Ms. Mechley's car stopped in the slow lane.

The first officer parked behind the car and waited until the Cincinnati officer arrived. The tow truck was called to remove the car, but no one saw Ms. Mechley's body, which was found the next day where her car was stopped.

Police Chief Thomas Streicher said that finding wrecked and disabled cars isn't uncommon for police officers, and the car had to be towed quickly to prevent another crash. A message was left yesterday seeking additional comment from police.

Ms. Mechley's parents say they were relieved when the Hamilton County coroner notified them that Ms. Mechley's head injury likely killed her immediately, but they still have questions.

"You expect a police officer to care about your child like they would their own," said Ms. Mechley's father, Francis Smith.



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