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Hobart Opens Cooling Center

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Due to the high heat and humidity today, along with scattered power outages, the City of Hobart has opened the Community Center at Festival Park at 111 E. Ridge Rd. as a cooling center.
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Settlement Announced in 'Nose Doctor' Claims

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A Merrillville law firm has announced a 55-million dollar civil settlement for nearly three-hundred people who were once patients of the so-called 'Nose Doctor'M. Attorneys at Theodoros and Rooth say the settlement approved in Lake Superior Court is for malpractice claims filed against former Merrillville sinus doctor Mark Weinberger. Weinberger pleaded guilty last year to more than twenty counts of health care fraud and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison last October. Officials say Weinberger fled the U-S in 2004, and was found on a mountainside in Italy about five years later.
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Update: 87,000 Lose Power, Lake County Hard Hit

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Northern Indiana Public Service Company field personnel and contracted crews from several Midwest states continue working around the clock Tuesday to restore the more than 35-thousand electric customers system-wide who lost power when severe storms moved quickly across northwest and northern Indiana Monday evening (June 24). Since 7 p.m. Monday, NIPSCO field crews have restored more than 52,000 of the total 87,000 customer outages related to the storm. The outages were primarily due to broken utility poles, downed electrical wire and other related storm damage as a result of heavy wind and tree damage. The remaining electric customer outages today are mostly in Lake County, including Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Munster, Highland, Merrillville and Lake Station. Other communities with significant customer outages include Valparaiso, LaPorte, and Michigan City.
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Cline Avenue Land Transferred for New Toll Bridge

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In East Chicago, demolition of the former Cline Avenue Bridge has been completed, and the Indiana Department of Transportation has transferred its right of way holdings to a private company. INDOT and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland signed agreements in 2012 with Cline Avenue Bridge LLC – a team from United Bridge Partners of American Infrastructure MLP Funds, FIGG Bridge Companies and Lane Construction Corporation – to build a new toll bridge entirely with private funds. As part of the transaction, sections of State Road 912 connecting the new bridge will receive approximately $3 million in resurfacing and paving work.
INDOT says the new Cline Avenue Bridge will have all-electronic toll collection when it opens to traffic using two basic payment programs: Transponders that are already used for regional toll systems like the Indiana Toll Road, and for drivers without transponders, a “pay by plate” option where the license plate is recognized and a bill is sent in the mail.
“United Bridge Partners is excited to be a part of the East Chicago community,” said Bob Hellman, Chairman of United Bridge Partners and CEO of American Infrastructure MLP Funds. “We look forward to providing a remarkable new modern bridge that is a solution to traffic congestion and will lead to a growth in jobs and opportunity for people and businesses throughout the region.”
Cline Avenue Bridge LLC is currently performing land surveys, design and traffic studies. Permit application materials are also being prepared and assembled for regulatory agencies. Once permitting is completed, bridge construction is anticipated to last 24 to 30 months.
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Deputy Wounded, K9 Killed in Standoff

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Indiana State Police say an Clark County Deputy Police Officer in downstate Sellersburg was wounded and an Indiana State Police K9 was killed during a standoff Monday afternoon. Sellersburg Police had called for assistance in a domestic call after authorities say an officer was confronted by a suspect who pointed a handgun at the officer. The officer took cover and shortly thereafter the suspect fled the area on foot and a foot pursuit ensued. Police say the suspect attempted to gain entry into a couple of residences in the neighborhood then entered one; no one was home at the time.
Trooper Nathan Abbott along with his K-9 partner, Kilo arrived at the scene. Kilo entered the residence first followed by several officers and shortly thereafter there was gunfire. The officers retreated from the residence but Kilo did not exit. At this point a standoff ensued. Officers from several area police agencies responded to the scene and secured the area. Two Indiana State Police SWAT teams along with a Clark County SWAT team also arrived on the scene.
Police say all afternoon negotiators attempted to establish dialog with the suspect who refused to respond to those attempts, and during the standoff a robot with a camera mounted to it was deployed inside the residence. The robot located the suspect inside the home however the suspect allegedly fired several rounds at the robot disabling the camera. The suspect also allegedly fired rounds at officers outside the residence wounding a Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy. The deputy was subsequently evacuated from the scene and flown to University Hospital in Louisville with non life-threatening injuries.
Police say after it was determined attempts to negotiate with the suspect were not going to be effective SWAT teams deployed numerous rounds of teargas inside the residence. At approximately 9:25 p.m. the suspect surrendered to officers ending the nearly 10 hour standoff.
The suspect, later identified as 31 year old Joshua L. Priddy of Sellersburg, was finally taken into custody. He is currently being held in the Clark County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder of a Police Officer (Class A Felony), Causing the Death of a Law Enforcement Animal (Class D Felony), Burglary (Class B Felony), Residential Entry (Class D Felony), Pointing a Firearm (Class D Felony), and Criminal Recklessness with a Firearm (Class C Felony).
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The Indiana State Police Alliance says Kilo’s handler was Nathan Abbott and their tour of duty with the ISP started January 5, 2007.  The Alliance say those who wish to make a donation in memory of Kilo can mail them to the address below, and 100% of all donations will be used to support the ISP K-9 program in memory of Kilo. These donations are also tax exempt. If you have any questions please contact Wayne Flick at the Indiana State Police Alliance, 317-636-0929
Please ensure you designate your donation is for the “Kilo Memorial Fund”. Donations may be made to the:
“Kilo Memorial Fund”
CFK/ISPA Foundation
1415 Shelby St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203...

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Signals Out Across the Region

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Traffic-Advisory
Last night's severe weather and the power outtages that came with have resulted in numerous traffic signal outages or malfunctions across the Region.  Traffic signal issues have been creating commuter delays this morning in busy areas including Munster, Highland, East Chicago, Merrillville, Chesterton and LaPorte.  In some cases, temporary four-way stop signs have been placed at key intersections.  When traffic signals malfunction or are dark, officials say motorists should treat the intersection as an all-way stop, unless law enforcement is on the scene directing traffic.   
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Michael Jackson's Death 4 Years Ago

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Four years ago today (Tue) a global music icon died. Gary-native King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50.   Alex Stone of ABC News covered Jackson's death, and saysl Jackson was in bed -- receiving the anesthetic Propofol to help him sleep -- when he died  "He had been on a grueling rehearsal schedule for a concert series in London. His assistant called 911," Stone reports.  "Jackson's doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and now four years later, Jackson's family is suing the concert promoter - claiming it should have known Jackson was in poor health."
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Storms Knock Out Power to 82,000

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Northern Indiana Public Service Company field personnel worked through the overnight hours to begin to restore the approximately 82,000 customers system-wide who lost electricity when a line of severe thunderstorms moved quickly through the region Monday evening. NIPSCO says the largest percentage of customer outages were in western portion of the electric service territory, especially in Lake County.  The utility company says the outages were primarily due to broken utility poles, downed electrical wire and other related storm damage as a result of heavy wind and tree damage. As of 5 am today, more than 42,000 customers were without power, with thousands of outages across Lake County, especially across the Gary area. 
To view the outage map click here: http://www.nipscooutages.com/WSSNisourceOutageMap/outagemap.html?action=city&reloaded=true
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Severe Storms with High Winds Move Through Region

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Sustained winds of up to 80 miles per hour caused extensive tree damage in portions of the Region Monday evening where trained spotters reported a sustained wind of 70 to 80 miles per hour for several minutes in the Griffith and Hammond areas. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning that has since lapsed prior to the storm's arrival.

Trees fell on power lines throughout northwest Indiana, causing widespread power outages especially in Gary, Hammond, Griffith, Highland, Merrillville, Munster and parts of Hobart.
Multiple large trees were reported down near I-80/94 and US-41 in the Highland area causing traffic lights to reportedly go out along US-41 near Ridge Road.
Traffic tipsters reported numerous other trees down including a large tree across  Ridge Road in Munster that took out high tension lines, large branches across Cline Avenue near 15th Avenue.

Other storm damage reported by the National Weather Service included many large tree limbs down on Utah Street in Gary after a reported wind gust of 70 miles an hour went through the area.  A 79 mile per hour gust was reported in burns Harbor.

INDOT reported several fallen trees blocked westbound US-20 before US-12/Dunes Highway.

Meanwhile both Lowell and Valparaiso reported 58 mile per winds during the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

Much of the northwest Indiana listening area remains under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11 p.m. CST Monday night.
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Indiana Continues to Struggle with High Child Poverty Rates

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INDIANAPOLIS – New data show Indiana children are growing up healthier but the state continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty.
Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book for 2013 ranked Indiana 21st in child health, up 13 spots from last year. The new ranking is bolstered by a 20 percent decrease in the rate of child and teen deaths from 2005 to 2010 and a drop of four percent in the percentage of babies born at a low birthrate during the same time period. The rankings are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  
“This is great news for Indiana’s children,” said Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. “Hopefully the Casey Foundation’s Kids Count report helps to intensify state and local efforts to improve the lives of our children across all the indicators of child well-being.”
One indicator in which the state still lags is child poverty. Nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of Indiana’s children age 18 and under live in poverty. While that figure matches the national average, Indiana’s child poverty rate grew 35 percent from 2005 to 2011 compared to 21 percent for the national average. The Kids Count Data Book ranked the economic well-being of Hoosier children 26th, down two spots from the 2012 data book.
Indiana’s child poverty rate actually started growing before the Great Recession, Stanczykiewicz said, and the economic downturn exacerbated the problem.
“That initial uptick in child poverty and the recession are proving history to be accurate in that even as economies recover, poverty lags behind curve,” Stanczykiewicz said. “There is much we can do in our communities, congregations and youth organizations to encourage youth to prepare themselves academically for the current and future jobs in Indiana that pay high wages.”
Indiana’s overall rank for 2013 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. improved to 30th from 31st in 2012. In addition to the health and economic well-being rankings, the Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 34th in education and 30th in family and community. 
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The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book provides a detailed picture of how children across the nation are faring. It gives a comprehensive index to measure childhood well-being at the national and state level in four categories—Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.  
The Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) contributed data to the book for each of Indiana’s 92 counties. Look here to see data from the national KIDS COUNT Data Book. Find Indiana statewide data here. Or see data for each of Indiana’s 92 counties here.    
The Indiana Youth Institute promotes the healthy development of children and youth by serving the people, institutions and communities that impact their well-being....

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Man Killed in Co-Op Explosion ID'd, Along with Possible Cause

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A 66 year old man is dead after an explosion around 1:30pm this afternoon at the Co-Alliance Grain Elevator in Union Mills. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says the deceased has been identified as James Swank, of Union Mills, cause of death due to multiple blunt force trauma with dismemberment, and the manner of death is accidental.
Sullivan says there is a high probability that this was a grain dust explosion, and that Swank's position was possibly on top on the grain elevator, when the explosion occurred, which was partially filled with corn and soybeans from local farmers. Sullivan says the A-T-F and the State Fire Marshal are on scene, along with the Department of Homeland Security. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports the explosion occurred and was limited to a concrete grain silo that is adjacent to a railroad spur on the grounds of the Co-Op, and that the deceased is an employee who was working in the silo at the time of the explosion. Authorities report no hazardous chemicals were involved or released as a result of the explosion.
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Triple Homicide in Gary: Update

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Police in Gary are investigating a triple homicide. The Lake County Coroners office says 34-year-old Michael Andrews and 22-year-old Briean Jiles, both of Gary, and 27-year-old Antonio Dove, of Glen Park, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were all pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 2 am Sunday in the 58-hundred block of East 13th Place, in the city's Aetna neighborhood. Corp. King says a fourth subject, who was also wounded at that location, was taken by a private vehicle to the hospital for injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.
Police say they received a call of shots fired around 1 am Sunday morning, and officers found all three men unresponsive in the street.
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Union Mills Co-Op Explosion: Update

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A 66 year old Union Mills man is dead after an explosion shortly after 2pm this afternoon at the Co-Alliance Grain Elevator in Union Mills. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says the man died due to blunt force trauma after some type of explosion that left the building standing but unstable. Coroner Sullivan says everyone has been accounted for and at last check they were waiting on the A-T-F and the State Fire Marshal. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports the explosion occurred and was limited to a concrete grain silo that is adjacent to a railroad spur on the grounds of the Co-Op, and that the deceased is an employee who was working in the silo at the time of the explosion. Authorities report no hazardous chemicals were involved or released as a result.
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One Dead After Explosion at Co-op in Union Mills

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A 66 year old Union Mills man is dead after an explosion shortly after 2pm this afternoon at the Co-Alliance Grain Elevator in Union Mills. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says a 66 year old Union Mills man is dead due to blunt force trauma after some type of explosion that left the building standing but unstable. Coroner Sullivan says everyone has been accounted for and at last check they were waiting on the A-T-F and the State Fire Marshal.
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Exotic Catfish Caught at Portage Lakefront Park

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Indiana DNR
A Lake Michigan angler caught more than he bargained for earlier this month when he reeled in an 8-pound, exotic Amazonian catfish commonly known as a redtail catfish.
The redtail catfish was caught at Portage Lakefront Park by Mike Durfee. It’s native to South America’s Amazon River system and is a popular aquarium fish in the United States. The fish would not have survived the cold water of Lake Michigan during Indiana’s winter.
Like many other aquarium species, the redtail catfish can grow large. The International Game Fish Association world record was caught in 2010 on the Amazon River and weighed over 123 pounds.
The fish Durfee caught likely was purchased when it was 2 to 4 inches long and raised in an aquarium until it outgrew the aquarium, according to Eric Fischer, aquatic invasive species coordinator in the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife.
“The first response of some owners may be to release unwanted fish into the closest natural water body thinking they are helping their pets out by setting them free,” Fischer said.
It is illegal in Indiana to release not only aquarium fish but also all other fish into public waters without a fish stocking permit.
Snakehead, an aggressive and invasive fish from Asia, and hydrilla, an aquarium and water garden plant that forms dense mats, are examples of species that have become established in the United States in large part due to aquarium releases.
“Some aquarium fish, exotic snails, and aquarium plants can permanently disrupt the natural environment,” Fischer said. “Exotic species impact our native wildlife by increasing competition for aquatic resources and introducing diseases.”
A person who has an unwanted aquarium pet should pursue an alternative to illegally releasing it into the wild. Many retailers will allow you to return unwanted aquarium pets or will put you in contact with another aquarium enthusiast or local aquarium society that is capable of caring for them.
 
If you are unable to find an alternative the most humane disposal method is to place the plant or animal in the freezer and then dispose of them in the trash.
Sightings and reports of exotic species should be reported to the DNR through the online reporting system dnr.IN.gov/dnr/6373.htm  or by calling 1-866-NO EXOTIC (1-866-663-9684).
For more information on the dangers and risks of releasing aquarium pets and plants into the wild, visit habitattitude.net.
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Two Semi Drivers Killed in I-65 Crash: Update

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(Photos Courtesy of Indiana State Police)
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An investigation continues after a double fatality on southbound I-65 in Tippecanoe County this morning, just before Lafayette. Indiana State Police report a preliminary investigation showed two semi drivers, 44 year old Marek Dziudek of Downer's Grove, Illinois, and 31 year old Tadeusz Wojtaszek of Romeoville, who were outside their vehicles disconnecting a trailer from a disabled semi parked on the outer shoulder, were struck when a third semi, driven by 42 year old Plata Albertico of Berwyn, for unknown reasons did not move over to the left lane, struck the disabled trailer, hitting both the other drivers. Troopers say the third semi then struck both semis before coming to rest in a ditch on the west side of the interstate. Two of the three semis caught fire. Police say the Berwyn man was uninjured. All southbound lanes were closed for more than three hours.
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Pence on Illiana: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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Pence at Illiana Forum
(Photo Courtesy of Matt Deitchley, INDOT Media Relations Director)
A two-day industry forum on the proposed Illiana Expressway kicked off today in Rosemont, Illinois. Both Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn attended the event this afternoon, and according to the INDOT Northwest Twitter Page, Governor Pence says the two states are partnering for progress, and that the Illiana Expressway is an idea whose time has come, because distributing the things Hoosiers make and grow is key to economic growth.
The gathering, hosted by INDOT and IDOT, is for potential contractors, construction managers, partners and investors in an east-west tollway that would run south of US 30 in the Region, connecting I-65 from south Lake County to I-55 in Illinois. You can hear more of our conversation at News Audio on Demand at regionnewsteam.com.
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Flood and Tornado Safety Tips in Case of Severe Wx

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With the threat for tornadoes and flooding looming over the next few days, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) reminds residents to closely monitor severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and follow these tips for surviving severe weather. 
Tornado Safety
  • Closely monitor a NOAA weather radio and/or a smartphone weather alerting apps to receive lifesaving severe weather alert information and other emergency messages on a timely basis.
     
  • The best place to shelter in a tornado is indoors.  Start with certified shelters and safe rooms, safe spaces above or below ground, or community shelters in public spaces labeled as official tornado shelters like stores, malls, churches or even airports.
     
  • If caught by extreme winds or flying debris while in a car, park as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes.  Stay in the car with the seat belt on.  Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
      
  • Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
Flood Safety
  • Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, follow this simple rule:  Turn Around…Don’t Drown.  Just six inches of flowing water can knock a person off their feet.  Eighteen to 24 inches of moving water can wash an SUV off the road.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. NEVER drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Water only one foot deep can float away most automobiles.
  • Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches.  Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
For more information on severe weather safety visit www.flash.org.  For mobile severe weather alerts and mitigation tips, download FLASH Weather Alerts at www.flashweatheralerts.org.
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Armed Robberies Reported by Teens Leaving Festival

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Munster PD
Police are investigating further incidents of teenagers leaving a festival at St. Thomas Church in Munster from over the weekend and being robbed at gunpoint, this after an incident on Thursday in the area of Broadmoor and Calumet. According to officials, one teen reported to police he was confronted early Sunday morning by a group of men, one of which pointed a gun at the teen, in the area of Broadmoor and Tapper Avenues, after reportedly leaving a friend's home prior to attending the festival. Police also report later that night, two teens were robbed by a man with a gun inside a gold or beige Cadillac, also in the area of Broadmoor and Tapper. Anyone with information regarding these incidents are asked to contact Munster Police at (219) 836-6600.
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Two Semi Drivers Killed in I-65 Crash

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Information from The Indiana State Police: In Tippecanoe County, at approximately 7:18 a.m Eastern Time, this Monday, June 24, 2013 morning, a three semi crash on I-65 south bound at the 176 ½ Mile marker (this is 1 ½ mile south of the State Road 43 exit) resulted in the death of two semi drivers.
Preliminary investigation, by Master Trooper Bill Brooks, revealed that a white 2000 Freightliner semi hauling a trailer loaded with a rail container was parked on the outer shoulder. The driver was outside of his vehicle because the semi tractor was disabled. Another tractor (bob-tail) a 1998 red Freightliner had pulled ahead of the first Freightliner as the driver was going to connect to the trailer from the disable 2000 Freightliner. Both drivers from these semis were outside their vehicles, one of them wearing a reflective vest, disconnecting the trailer from the disabled 2000 Freightliner; the trailer they were disconnecting was parked near the fog line on the shoulder.
A white 2004 Freightliner pulling a box trailer, hauling for UPS, and owned by Transcorr LLC out of Indianapolis was southbound when the driver, Plata Albertico, 42 of Berwyn, Illinois, for unknown reasons did not move over to the left lane. Albertico’s tractor struck the disabled trailer parked on the shoulder, hitting both drivers as they were disconnecting the trailer, he then struck both Freightliners parked on the outer shoulder before coming to rest down in the ditch on the west side of the interstate. The red 1998 Freightliner (bob-tail) caught fire after being hit. Albertico’s semi also caught fire and part of his general freight load on his trailer burned. Albertico was not injured. All vehicles and trailers sustained heavy damage.
One driver hit at the scene was pronounced dead by the Tippecanoe County Coroner of massive blunt force trauma the second driver was taken to Indiana University Arnett in Lafayette where the driver was later pronounced dead. Names are being withheld pending notification of their families.
All lanes southbound were blocked and traffic was diverted off at State Road 18 for investigation of the crash, removal of the deceased, removal of the vehicles and trailers, and clean-up. One lane was re-opened at approximately 10:30 A.M. This is still an on-going investigation.
Assisting: Indiana State Police Troopers Derek Scott, Ben Rector, Sergeants Kim Riley, Dan Ziegler, Dave Murray, Lieutenant Jay Janke, White County EMS, Purdue University Police, Lafayette Police, West Lafayette Police and Tippecanoe County Sheriff
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[Photos/Indiana State Police]
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