The case of an Oconee County auto accident that injured a passenger was one step away from jury deliberations. All that was left this afternoon was for the judge to instruct the jury on the law, before deliberations to decide whether Troy Stargel was negligent in the injury suffered by Melissa Sears. The plaintiff seeks damages to compensate her for what she says were two hospital visits in August 2009 as the result of a midnight hour, one-vehicle accident on highway 11, as both driver and passenger headed for a party in Salem. Driver Stargel lost control of the vehicle and wrecked, and there was conflicting testimony as to why he lost control. The defendant, a Pennsylvania resident, did not attend the trial. Instead he offered testimony through a deposition. His lawyer, Donald Loren Smith, asked the jury not to hold his absence against him.