Semi Driver and 3 Others Killed in Chain Reaction Crash in Indianaby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/15/2017
A horrific crash involving two semi-trucks and a passenger vehicle killed four people near Terre Haute, IN on Saturday. It was yet another tragic example of what can happen when a driver fails to slow down for a traffic back-up.
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The crash occurred on Saturday afternoon just before 5 p.m. in Virgo County, IN. Police say it started with a previous incident involving a tractor-trailer that had pulled over with a small brake fire. Fire trucks and a tow recovery unit were assisting the truck driver on the eastbound shoulder of Interstate 70 near the four mile marker. Traffic was slowed as units attended to the fire and then a far worse situation unfolded. A second tractor-trailer approached the back-up of traffic and failed to slow down. The semi plowed into the rear of a Toyota passenger vehicle and then crashed into the rear of a Maverick flatbed truck hauling steel bars.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Joe Watts says that all three occupants of the passenger vehicle were killed upon impact and the car erupted into flames. Watts says the semi driver was also killed when he struck the flatbed truck and the steel bars skewered his semi. On Monday afternoon, Indiana State Police identified the semi driver as 38-year-old Jeffrey Kolkman of Jenison, MI. He had been on the job driving for Green Transportation, a company based in Holland, MI.
Authorities also released the identity of the three people who were killed in the passenger vehicle after their families were notified. The driver was Brian Lee, 48, of West Terre Haute, his 23-year-old son, Aaron Lee was in the front passenger’s seat, and 45-year-old Stephanie Swaim of Brazil, Ind., was in the backseat.
Police say that a coroner determined all four victims died on impact. The only positive news to come of the tragic day was that the driver of the flatbed truck managed to survive without suffering any serious injuries. The accident closed eastbound lanes of I-70 in the area for 14 hours, creating more traffic delays.
The investigation is ongoing and police ask anyone with information about the crash to contact the investigating officer, Master Trooper Jason Schoffstall at the Putnamville Post at 765-653-4114.