James Dean's stolen tombstone has been recovered by an off-duty sheriff's deputy who rammed into it with his car on a lonely Indiana country road.

The rose-colored granite stone, a few feet long and about 400 pounds, was reported stolen Tuesday from Park Cemetery in Dean's hometown of Fairmount, 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Gilman stumbled on-to the missing gravestone by accident Thursday night when it tore the transmission out of his patrol car.

Deputies hauled the stone to the county jail, where a representative from Dean's estate was to pick it.

Dean, who starred in "East of Eden," "Giant" and "Rebel Without a Cause," was killed in a car crash in California in 1955 at age 24. His grave draws thousands of visitors each year, including many who leave mementos.

The original tombstone was stolen in April 1983, recovered the next month, then stolen again that August. The once-missing tombstone replaced the original.