Truck Driver Charged in 9-Vehicle Crash Killing a Baby and Two Women
Boone County, IN – A 34-year-old Michigan truck driver is facing serious charges after police say he failed to slow for traffic and plowed into multiple passenger vehicles resulting in the deaths of three people along Interstate 65 on Sunday.
According to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), trucker Mathew Lewis Small of Grandville, MI was northbound along I-65 at approximately 11 a.m. on Sunday when the big rig he was driving smashed into slowed traffic.
The collision set off a chain reaction crash involving a total of 8 passenger vehicles and a tractor-trailer.
Investigators say they arrived to discover a fiery scene and a vehicle pinned between the big rig and the guardrail.
Two people inside the vehicle pinned against the guardrail, Mariah Tomey, 21, and Kaylee Kirk, 19, both of Lebanon, were pronounced dead at the scene.
BCSO says it later discovered a third deceased victim inside the vehicle, 1-year-old Hadley Tomey, also of Lebanon.
Investigators say a second vehicle was pushed over the guardrail and flipped onto its driver’s side.
Two victims were trapped in that vehicle and ultimately extricated.
A total of 14 people were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to BCSO.
After a crash reconstruction team investigated for approximately four hours, Small was charged with with 3 counts of Reckless Homicide (Level 5 Felonies) and booked into the Boone County Jail.
According to Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, Small told investigators he looked away from the road to “set his coffee mug down” moments before the crash.
“Distracted driving or driver inattention is a major cause of many accidents on our public roadways,” Nielson said. “In this case we believe it was a contributing factor in this fatal crash.”
WAS TRUCKER’S DRIVING HISTORY A WARNING SIGN? CLICK BELOW FOR THE LATEST.
He urged all drivers to eliminate distractions while operating.
“Please pay attention to your driving when operating a motor vehicle. Give yourself plenty of room to have a way out, put down your phone or other objects, do not drive distracted or impaired! Keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Small was hauling for Dubuque, IA-based VL Trucking Inc.
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), VL Trucking operates 150 power units and employs 150 drivers.
The carrier has a “satisfactory” safety rating and currently reports driver and vehicle inspection out-of-service percentages well-below industry averages.
Photos courtesy of BCSO, Zionsville Fire Dept., Fox 59
UPDATE: Trucker Who Pleaded Guilty in Semi vs Bus Crash That Killed 13 Abruptly Released After 2 Months