Fiery Chain Reaction Crash Kills Truck Driver and 4 Motoristsby Jana Ritter - Published: 7/24/2015
It’s been less than a month since a tractor-trailer slammed into a line of cars stopped in a construction zone, killing 6 people in Tennessee. Now, a similar situation has killed 5 more people after a truck driver failed to slow at a construction site in Northwest Indiana, early this morning.
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According to Indiana State Police, the crash occurred just after 12am Friday on I-65 in Tippecanoe County near the State Road 43 exit. Sgt. Kim Riley said the incident occurred in the southbound lanes and involved two tractor-trailers and five four-wheel vehicles. A red tractor-trailer carrying frozen chicken had been doing the right thing and slowing for construction, along with a Honda Pilot and a Toyota Yaris slowing right behind the truck. Then a second tractor-trailer carrying cooking oil came along and instead of slowing down, the truck driver rear-ended the Toyota and sent it flying off the roadway, instantly killing the driver. The tractor-trailer continued its southbound path, rear-ending the Honda and then the truck carrying the chicken. The impact was so severe it sent the Honda spinning into both semis and ignited a fire in all three vehicles.
By the time first responders arrived at the scene, the Honda and the cooking oil truck were engulfed in flames and the truck driver and all four people in the Honda were dead. The victims have been identified as 34 year-old truck driver Pankiv Ruslan of Illinois, 47 year-old Honda driver Jill E. Buck of Indiana, and her two children, A. J. and Branson, ages 8 and 10. The driver of the Toyota, 41 year-old Mikhail Yuryevich Stepanov of Lafayette also died at the scene and his passenger, 31 year-old Tatiana Yuryevna Stepanova was severely injured in the crash. The three other vehicles involved in the incident were lucky to escape with only minimal damage.
While it has not yet been revealed why the second truck driver failed to slow for the construction site, it was a fatal mistake that cost his and four other motorists their lives. “There are signs for about 20 miles down the interstate to tell you that you’re coming into construction and that traffic is going to be slowing,” said Sgt. Riley. “He apparently didn’t see the signs, or wasn’t paying attention, started to rear-end the vehicles, basically just plowed through the cars and ran into the rear-end of the second semi here. The fire started at that point in time.”
The I-65 northbound lanes were able to reopen around 6:30 a.m. but the southbound lanes of remained closed near Lafayette into Friday afternoon.