Officials continue to investigate a Putnamville truck crash involving a semi-truck, a flatbed truck and a passenger vehicle that took the lives of all three people in the passenger vehicle as well as one of the truck drivers. Elsewhere in Indiana, a truck crash in Gary proved fatal for one woman and injured several others, and three men sustained injuries when a big rig driver hit a state mowing crew along the side of U.S. Highway 50. The serious truck crashes all occurred within 10 days of each other.
Four Killed in Putnamville Truck Crash
May 13, 2017
A fiery semi-truck accident left four people dead and I-70 closed for more than 14 hours in Western Indiana as officials worked to investigate the crash and secure the scene.
The Putnamville truck crash took place at about 5:00 p.m. between Terre Haute and Indianapolis, near the four-mile marker of I-70, and occurred in the eastbound lanes. A catalyst for the crash was another incident involving an active fire at the side of the road.
The fire department and tow recovery units were assisting a semi-truck with a brake fire in the same location, and traffic had slowed in response. Thirty-eight-year-old Jeffrey D. Kolkman, a West Michigan resident, was driving a semi-truck in the eastbound lanes and did not slow as he approached the area, causing him to rear-end a Toyota passenger vehicle with three occupants, and push the Toyota into a flatbed truck hauling steel bars. After impact, the Toyota caught fire.
The Toyota was driven by 48-year-old Brian E. Lee. His son, 23-year-old Aaron M. Lee (both residents of West Terre Haute) was traveling with him, as well as 45-year-old Stephanie Swaim, of Brazil. According to Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos, all three were killed upon impact, as was Kolkman.
The driver of the flatbed hauling steel, 49-year-old Eric C. Johnson of Fort Worth, Texas, sustained no injuries in the Putnamville truck crash.
Officials closed eastbound I-70 in the area overnight and reopened that section of the freeway at around 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
The truck crash investigation is being led by Master Trooper Jason Schoffstall, and anyone with information on the accident is asked to call Schoffstall at the Putnamville Post at 765-653-4114. Schoffstall will be assisted in his investigation by the ISP Putnamville Troopers, ISP Crash Reconstructionists, ISP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Troopers, Vigo County Sheriff’s Office, Vigo County Coroner’s Office, and Terre Haute Fire Department, among others.
Cause of Fatal Rollover Truck Crash in Gary Unknown
May 16, 2017
Three days after the Putnamville truck crash, another Indiana semi-truck accident in Gary proved deadly. While many of the circumstances of the crash remain unknown, officials have identified one deceased victim from the rollover semi-truck crash, and have confirmed that multiple other people sustained injuries in the crash.
The accident, which involved a big rig and a medical transport van, occurred near 4th and Rutledge a little before 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Officials have not said what caused the crash or outlined how it took place, but images show the medical transport van on its side with doors ajar and widespread damage. The cab of the semi-truck is shown bent back toward its trailer, but the truck and its cargo remained upright.
One passenger in the medical transport van, 57-year-old Kathy Flowers, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Lake County Coroner’s office. Two other passengers in the transport van were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, as was the driver of the van. The driver of the semi-truck was also taken to a hospital. Officials have not said how many people were on board the van when the truck crash happened.
An investigation into the cause of the truck crash by the Gary Police Department is ongoing, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting crash reconstruction. Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information about it is asked to call Detective Sergeant Michael Jackson at 219-881-4785.
Semi-Truck Strikes Mowing Crew in Dearborn County
May 23, 2017
A little more than a week after the Putnamville truck crash, a close call in Dearborn County that could have easily resulted in fatalities instead caused serious injuries.
Forty-seven-year-old Tony Littleton was driving a semi-truck westbound on U.S. Highway 50 when he came upon an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) mowing crew, which consisted of a tractor pulling mowing equipment and an escort pickup truck behind it, both in the far right lane. The escort pickup truck had an amber strobe light on top of it to alert other drivers to the presence of the INDOT vehicles.
According to officials, Littleton did not slow down or change lanes as he approached the mowing crew, and instead slammed into the escort pickup truck, pushing it into the tractor in front of it.
Twenty-two-year-old Justin White, the tractor operator, was taken by ambulance to Dearborn County Hospital for the treatment of undisclosed injuries, and Littleton and the pickup truck driver, 34-year-old Kyle McIntosh, were both flown to a Cincinnati area hospital with what were described as “serious injuries.”
The investigation into the crash is ongoing, and toxicology reports are underway.