News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 17, 2012

One dies in I-70 crash

3 others critically hurt in collisions

TERRE HAUTE — One person died and three more were injured critically in a multi-vehicle, chain-reaction collision Sunday night on Interstate 70, just east of the superhighway’s Indiana 46 exit.

The wreck occurred in the eastbound lanes at about 6:55 p.m. near the interstate’s 12-mile marker.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Joe Watts said the crash was still under investigation late Sunday night, and officers were trying to establish a sequence of events. But it was believed the accident involved three semitrailers, two passenger vehicles and a wrecker, he said.

Investigators had established that before the collisions one semitrailer broke down and pulled over onto the right shoulder of the eastbound lanes to wait for a wrecker, which was dispatched by Poor Boys Towing of Brazil, Watts said.

While that semitrailer’s driver was waiting, police believe, a second semitrailer also broke down and stopped in the right eastbound driving lane, about 100 feet west of the semitrailer that was off on the shoulder.

While workers for Poor Boys Towing attempted first to aid the semitrailer in the right driving lane, it is believed a third semitrailer ran into the rear of a red SUV. The SUV in turn struck a gray pickup truck. The gray pickup then struck the semitrailer that had pulled to the shoulder, it was believed Sunday night.

The third semitrailer, the red SUV and the gray pickup truck had moved into the left lane to go around the broken-down truck in the driving lane, Watts said.

The semitrailer that struck the red SUV skidded and rolled over an embankment, he said.

The red SUV and the gray pickup both contained occupants who were transported with “life-threatening” injuries by emergency helicopters to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Watts said the driver of the third semitrailer was taken to Terre Haute Regional Hospital for care, but that the driver’s injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Neither the wrecker crew nor the drivers of the two other semitrailers were injured, Watt said.

Names of those involved in the accident were not released Sunday evening.

Watts said that as of 9 p.m., emergency responders were still “working feverishly” at that point to get an eastbound lane open.

“We’re too early in the investigation right now to determine if there are going to be any traffic citations issued,” Watts said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

Tribune-Star copy editors Merv Hendricks and Phil Miller contributed to this story.

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