Indiana residents were again reminded of the devastation caused by semi tractor-trailer accidents when they awoke last Sunday to the news of a crash involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger van.
According to early reports, a passenger van traveling north on Interstate 65 near Edinburgh was struck from behind by a semitrailer. The accident occurred around 3:30 a.m. on the darkened interstate.
The full-sized passenger van, filled with family members, was returning from a kite flying competition in Atlanta, Georgia. The van carried 18 people. All the passengers in the van were from one Chicago area family.
Eyewitness accounts indicate that the van was attempting to slow and pull to the shoulder of the highway. Evidence suggests that the tractor-trailer struck the van in the rear, causing it to lose control. The force of the impact drove the van off the road and into the ditch.
When rescue personnel arrived on the scene, two 20-year-old men in the van were pronounced dead. The victims were identified as Vijay Patel of Broadview, IL and Sujal Patel of Summit, IL. All the remaining family members were taken to local hospitals with injuries ranging from minor scratches to life threatening trauma. Early reports indicate that three people in the van were taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where they are listed in critical condition.
The tractor-trailer driver, 42-year-old Randall L. Chriscoe of Ramseur, North Carolina, was taken to a local hospital for chest pains. He was driving a 2007 Freightliner. Some witnesses reported that the blue tractor-trailer might have been driving over the speed limit and weaving through traffic prior to the accident. Other news stories indicate that the weather might have played a part. Either way, Indiana State Police and the Shelby County Prosecutors Office are investigating the matter. Blood samples were taken from both drivers but the results remain unreported at this time. Traffic was rerouted at mile-marker 80 for nearly five hours as a result of the crash.