News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 15, 2012

Clay City woman injured in I-70 accident


Tribune-Star staff report

CLAY COUNTY — A Tuesday afternoon crash on Interstate 70 near the Brazil exit sent a Clay City woman to the hospital and blocked east- and westbound traffic for more than an hour.

According to the Indiana State Police, Thelma M. Tiefel, 90, of Clay City, was headed west on I-70 in the driving lane when she attempted to make a U-turn at about the 22-mile marker by turning onto a paved cross-over in the median. In doing so, she reportedly crossed the westbound passing lane and was struck by a semitrailer headed in the same direction.

The impact forced Tiefel’s car, a 1997 Chevrolet Malibu, back into the driving lane of westbound I-70 where it struck another semitrailer. Tiefel’s car then came to rest in a grassy area on the north side of the westbound lanes. An off-duty ISP Trooper, Brent Robinson, was first on the scene and provided medical help before paramedics and firefighters arrived, according to ISP Sgt. Joe Watts, who was also at the scene of the crash, which took place about 4:30 p.m.

The collision caused the first semitrailer, driven by Jose A. Tello, 37, of Laredo, Texas, to catch fire. The semitrailer was fully engulfed in flames before area fire crews arrived on the scene. Authorities closed the eastbound lanes of I-70 out of concern that the truck might have been carrying hazardous materials. The fire was extinguished and authorities opened the eastbound lanes at 5:56 p.m. after determining that the semitrailer’s contents were not hazardous to passing traffic.

The driving lane of westbound I-70 was opened about 30 minutes later but the westbound passing lane remained closed Tuesday evening. Cleanup was expected to last until early today, keeping the passing lane closed on westbound I-70, Watts said.

After being freed from her car by Posey and Jackson Township emergency responders, Tiefel was airlifted to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment. She was listed as stable late Tuesday night, the ISP stated.

Neither semitrailer driver was injured or cited by police.

The Indiana State Police remind motorists that making a U-turn on the interstate is prohibited and highly dangerous.