Trucker’s Failure to Slow Leads to 7-Vehicle Crash Killing Three People, Police Say
DeKalb County, IN – Police in Indiana have released a preliminary investigation report into a “catastrophic” seven-vehicle crash that involved two semis and killed three people on Wednesday afternoon near Auburn, IN.
The deadly incident took place in the northbound lanes of Interstate 69 near mile marker 334 around 3:15 p.m., according to a press release from the Indiana State Police (ISP).
Officials revealed I-69 northbound “had slowed or stopped due to roadway construction delays up again near the Waterloo exit.”
Investigators said 70-year-old James Crager, of Angola, IN, was operating a red 2007 Kenworth hauling hay when he approached “slowed traffic at a high rate of speed.”
Crager’s failure to slow “or take evasive action to avoid the congested traffic” then led to a deadly chain of events, ISP stated.
Crager’s Kenworth slammed into the back of a red GMC Acadia in the right lane of I-69, which forced the SUV off the right side of the road and into a ditch.
The Kenworth then continued northbound and struck the rear of a silver Ford Escape, which was also pushed off onto the right shoulder upon impact.
Following its collision with the Ford, the semi struck a black Mazda passenger car, which propelled the Mazda into the back of a 2016 Freighliner tractor-trailer, hauling for Landstar.
Two other vehicles traveling on I-69 northbound at the time of the chain-reaction crash — a Chevrolet Silverado pickup and a Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV — were “able to take evasive action by swerving off road to the right and avoiding direct impact.”
The event was later described by ISP as a “catastrophic chain of events.”
The two Chevy’s sustained minor damage as a result and no injuries were reported.
However, the driver of the Mazda, who has since been identified as William Charles Heil, 65, of Angola, IN, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Further, all five occupants of the GMC Acadia were transported to area hospitals via ambulance and helicopter.
Two of the GMC’s passengers — 81-year-old Dale Eugene Low and his 72-year-old wife, Jean Elise Lowe, of Charlotte, MI — died at the hospital.
Local outlet WANE reported Crager’s semi was registered to Keep On Trucking, LLC.
Data found online reveal Crager is the registered agent of Keep On Trucking, which was incorporated in July 2006.
The identity of the Landstar operator was not released by authorities.
I-69 northbound was shut down for approximately five hours as investigators and cleanup crews worked the scene.
There has been no word on possible charges for Crager.
Transportation Nation Network will keep you updated.
Photo courtesy of Twiter/@JakeTTweets