TERRE HAUTE —
Three people were injured Monday afternoon from a pair of crashes on Interstate 70 that temporarily closed the highway and diverted traffic into Terre Haute.
The first crash took place in the eastbound lane of I-70 shortly after 2 p.m. at about the 4-mile marker west of Terre Haute.
According to a news release from the Indiana State Police, the crash occurred when Rick A. Porter, 44, of West Terre Haute, was driving his white, 1997 GMC pickup east on I-70 and crashed into a stationary Indiana Department of Transportation maintenance vehicle that was cleaning a bridge.
According to the release, Porter passed one INDOT vehicle that was warning of a required lane change ahead. All other eastbound traffic observed the warning and had changed lanes, the ISP release stated.
The INDOT vehicle was a yellow 2003 Freightliner operated by David E. Evans, 53, of Terre Haute. Evans was not injured, according to the release.
Porter, whose pickup truck was badly damaged, received facial injuries and was taken to a Terre Haute hospital for treatment, according to the ISP release. He was wearing a seat belt and was cited for driving too fast to avoid a collision, state police stated.
Because of this first accident, traffic in both lanes of eastbound I-70 was forced to stop. A short time later, approximately one mile to the west of the first crash, an eastbound semi-trailer approached the slowed or stopped traffic too quickly and a second crash took place, according to the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.
This semi-trailer, driven by John W. Stricklin, 32, of Redfield, Ark., attempted to stop for the line of traffic when his truck jackknifed and collided with six stopped vehicles. Stricklin’s semitrailer finally came to rest, blocking both eastbound lanes.
Stricklin complained of chest pain after the crash and was taken to a Terre Haute hospital emergency room, said Clark Cottom, chief deputy for the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department. The driver of one of the vehicles struck by Stricklin’s semi-trailer, Cory Hankins, 33, of Alton, Ill., was also taken to the hospital complaining of back and neck injuries.
None of the injuries from the second crash appeared life-threatening, Cottom said.
Eastbound Interstate 70 was closed about 90 minutes because of the accidents. Traffic was diverted to National Drive in western Vigo County, into Terre Haute and back to I-70 via U.S. 41.
Emergency responders called wreckers to the scene immediately after the incident, Cottom said. One wrecker arrived from Marshall, Ill., to move the semi-trailer, and all of the involved vehicles were moved to the shoulder of the highway to allow traffic to use the left lane, he said.
“This is becoming a weekly occurrence,” Cottom said of the accidents on I-70. Additional state and Vigo County police had been patrolling I-70 on Monday to attempt to slow traffic ahead of construction zones, he said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org