Family killed in Indiana crash likely from Chicago
BRISTOL, Ind. — Seven members of an extended family traveling from Chicago to New Jersey for a funeral, including a newborn and three other children, were killed when their minivan hit a deer and a semi-trailer struck them from behind, police said Friday.
Those killed in the crash on the Indiana Toll Road include a 21-year-old mother and her two sons, one of whom was 6 weeks old. The other victims were a 52-year-old man and his 15-year-old son, and a 26-year-old woman and her 8-year-old daughter, said Indiana State Police Sgt. Trent Smith.
Three other people from the minivan were hospitalized.
A relative had told The Chicago Tribune that all of those on board were Ecuadoran immigrants living in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. State police said they were members of an extended family composed of three family groups.
"The pain is very strong," Manuel Quizhpi, who said he was the brother of one of the victims, told the Tribune.
None of the minivan's 10 occupants were wearing seatbelts during the crash Thursday night about 10 miles east of South Bend, Smith said. Smith said the infant, a 6-week-old boy, was in a car seat but had not been buckled in.
The minivan was heading east on the toll road about 8 p.m. Thursday when it hit a deer and stopped or slowed down, authorities said. The semitrailer was going about 65 mph when it hit the van in the highway's eastbound lanes shortly after that.
Both vehicles ended up in the center median, blocking traffic in both directions for several hours. Firefighters and emergency workers at the scene of the crash swarmed around the crumpled remains of the minivan, its side shredded with a torn hunk of metal pinned beneath one of the semi-tractor's tires.
Two of the minivan's three injured occupants — a man and a woman — were taken by helicopter for treatment and were in critical condition Friday. Another man was in stable condition, Smith said.
The driver of the semi-tractor — Jesse Donovan, 24, of Johnston, R.I. — was released from a hospital after being treated for minor injuries. Smith said he didn't face any charges at this time and preliminary tests indicated that he had not been drinking alcohol.
Donovan was an employee of Roehl Transport Inc. of Marshfield, Wis., which owns the truck, said Vice President of Workforce Development and Administration Greg Koepel.
"Our hearts go out to those in the accident and their families," said Koepel, who said the company would have no further comment.
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