The truck driver said he was driving on his way from West Virginia to Minnesota. He stopped to rest along the interstate highway to rest in a modest Indiana city before he rolled his 18-wheeler back out into traffic.
The 34-year-old trucker is now charged with three counts of reckless homicide after law enforcement officials say his tractor-trailer slammed into slow-moving traffic on Interstate 65 as he sipped coffee and talked on the phone – failing to notice the line of traffic ahead of him until it was too late.
The violent truck wreck took the lives of two young women – ages 21 and 19 – as well as the life of a one-year-old child.
Officials said that emergency crews received calls just after 11 am about a white Freightliner rig striking multiple vehicles on the interstate near an exit ramp. A passenger vehicle was pinned by the commercial truck against a guardrail – the 18-wheeler and passenger vehicle both “erupted in flames,” a news report stated.
The trucker reportedly told police that he remembered having clear lanes around his big rig near the exit and that he took a sip of coffee while chatting to his wife on the phone and then putting the cup down – when he suddenly noticed the traffic ahead of him.
Because of the heavy load his truck carried, he could not bring the rig to a quick stop. He tried to pull to the side, but blacked out, he said. The next thing he remembered were people banging on the truck door asking for his fire extinguisher and telling him to exit the truck cab.
He doesn’t remember slamming into other vehicles, he said.
A witness to the crash said he noticed the 18-wheeler approaching traffic without slowing down. He said his vehicle was clipped by the rig but he was more fortunate than the women and child.
This tragedy highlights again the dangers of distracted driving – dangers multiplied when distractions involve large, fast-moving commercial vehicles.