Indiana State Police say four people are dead after a tractor-trailer failed to slow for traffic and struck a passenger vehicle and another truck near Terre Haute Saturday, May 13.
Terre Haute’s Tribune-Star reports that the tractor-trailer was traveling east on Interstate 70 west of Terre Haute when traffic in the eastbound lanes started to slow because of an active fire, reportedly from a tractor-trailer brake fire, along the highway.
Just before 5 p.m., the tractor-trailer failed to slow down and slammed into the back of a Toyota car, pushing it into the back of a flatbed trailer and causing it to burst into flames. The three occupants of the car died at the scene.
Authorities said that after the tractor-trailer hit the car, it slammed into the back of a Maverick flatbed truck hauling steel bars, which impaled the tractor-trailer and killed the driver. The Associated Press and several other sources report that the driver of the tractor-trailer was identified as Jeffrey D. Kolkman, 38, of Jenison, Michigan.
The driver of the semi-truck hauling the steel rods, Eric Johnson, 49, of Fort Worth, Texas, was not injured.
The occupants of the car were identified as:
- Brian E. Lee, 48, of West Terre Haute, the driver of the Toyota
- Mr. Lee’s son, Aaron, who was sitting in the front passenger seat
- Stephanie Swaim, 45, of Brazil, Indiana, who was sitting in the back seat
Indiana State Police continue to investigate the crash, with a focus on what factors could have caused Mr. Kolkman to fail to adjust his speed.
WIBQ reports that others assisting in the response and investigation are ISP Putnamville Troopers, ISP Crash Reconstructionists, ISP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Troopers, Vigo County Sheriff’s Office, Vigo County Coroner’s Office, Terre Haute Fire Department, Sugar Creek Fire/Rescue, Seelyville Fire/Rescue, Honey Creek Fire/Rescue, Otter Creek Fire/Rescue, Riley Fire/EMS, Vigo County Hazmat Team, IDEM, Peffley and Hinshaw Wrecker Service, and MISCO Crane Service.