Troopers say trucker failed to slow, causing ‘catastrophic chain of events’ that killed three

Indiana State Police (ISP) have released new information about a pileup crash that claimed three lives in DeKalb County on Wednesday afternoon.

ISP says that the seven vehicle crash occurred around 3:15 p.m. on September 16 on I-69 at mile marker 332 near Auburn.

ISP describes the crash:

Trooper Adam Kitson’s preliminary crash investigation revealed that at the time of the crash, the northbound I-69 traffic had slowed or stopped due to roadway construction delays up ahead near the 334mm Waterloo exit.  A red 2007 Kenworth semi-tractor/trailer driven by James Crager, 70, of Angola, Indiana was approaching the slowed traffic at a high rate of speed.  Crager failed to slow or take evasive action to avoid the congested traffic, which led to a catastrophic chain of events.  

Crager’s semi-tractor first crashed into the rear of the red GMC Acadia SUV in the right lane (forcing that vehicle off road down into the right side ditch), continued northbound crashing into the rear of a silver Ford Escape (also forcing it off onto the right shoulder), and then crashed into the rear of a black Mazda passenger car, an impact which then caused the Mazda to crash into the rear of a 2016 Freightliner semi-tractor/trailer.  The Mazda passenger car sustained catastrophic damage from the impact.  Fortunately, the drivers two other vehicles, a silver Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and a blue Chevrolet Trailblazer, were able to take evasive action by swerving off road to the right and avoiding direct impact, both sustaining only minor damage and no injuries.

The Mazda driver, later identified as 65 year old William Charles Heil, died at the scene. Two of the people in the GMC Acadia, Dale Eugene Lowe, 81, and Jean Elsie Lowe, 72, were taken to the hospital but later passed away from their injuries.

Four other people suffered minor injuries.

The crash shut down northbound I-69 at mile marker 332 for five hours.