TERRE HAUTE —
Six people suffered injuries on Tuesday morning in a fiery five-vehicle crash that featured what a witness called an amazing, selfless rescue of one driver who was trapped in a car after it was struck from behind at a Terre Haute intersection. None of the injuries appeared life-threatening, police said Tuesday night.
Chandelle L. Chesterfield, who was driving a 1999 Ford Mustang, was stopped in traffic at 13th and Crawford streets at 9:46 a.m. when her car was rear-ended by a truck driven by Ronnie D. Bland, police said. Chesterfield’s car was, in turn, pushed forward into other vehicles stopped for the traffic signal.
Police said Bland’s truck was seen traveling erratically southbound on 13th Street, and a police officer tried to make a traffic stop on the truck. However, the truck accelerated and ran into the back of Chesterfield’s car. Bland, who also was injured in the wreck, may have experienced a medical episode, which resulted in the crash, Assistant THPD Chief Shawn Keen said.
B & B Foods employee Lori Barash watched the scene unfold from inside the store, which is at the southeast corner of the intersection. “There was just a lot of incredibly selfless people who helped her [Chesterfield],” Barash said.
Employees in the business immediately rushed outside to help the people involved in the accident, she said. Because of flames coming from Chesterfield’s car, some employees grabbed fire extinguishers and used them to knock down the fire while also trying to get Chesterfield out of the car.
One employee broke out the driver’s side window of the car to help get Chesterfield out of the heavily damaged vehicle. A Terre Haute police officer who responded to the accident also helped free Chesterfield. The actions of those responding probably saved the woman’s life, police said.
“It was amazing,” Barash said. “As soon as that accident occurred, people rushed to help.”
One driver injured in the accident, Michael A. McCarter, also tried to help get Chesterfield out of the car, Barash said, even though he also had suffered injuries.
The three others injured were Hugh G. Crawford, an on-duty Terre Haute police officer; Timothy Eggers; and George Dixon; a passenger in Eggers’ car.
Keen said police have received surveillance footage from a nearby business that captured the entire accident on video.
Witness Dean Dickison said he was at B & B Foods getting items out of parked vehicle when the crash occurred. Dickison said Bland’s truck was southbound on 13th Street at a high rate of speed when it crashed into the line of stopped vehicles. The truck traveled through the intersection to the left, rounding the corner and ending up across the northeast curb about 40 yards from the intersection, he said.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tribune-Star reporter Arthur Foulkes contributed to this report.