It was a frightful morning Thursday in Steuben County as the Indiana State Police investigated two separate but related serious crashes on State Route 120. In both crashes, issues related to driver fatigue and inattention were found to be contributing causal factors. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries in either crash, including the crash where a Steuben County officer was struck by a passing vehicle.
The first crash occurred at approximately 8:45 A.M., where Master Trooper Kody Buell responded to a two vehicle head on crash on State Route 120 near County Road 175 West. Preliminary investigation revealed that a black 2000 Ford Explorer, operated by Fernando Fernandez-Perez age 39 of Angola, was traveling westbound on State Route 120 where it crossed left of center into the path of an oncoming 2019 Freightliner semi-tractor trailer driven by Albert Colten, age 66 of Stockton, California.
The investigation revealed that driver fatigue contributed to the Ford Explorer operating left of center, and it also showed that the semi-tractor took evasive action attempting to avoid collision, but was unsuccessful. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage and were considered a total loss. Fernandez-Perez sustained minor injuries and was treated and released at the scene by Steuben County EMS personnel. Colten was not injured.
The second crash involved a Steuben County Sheriff’s Department officer, Chief Deputy Michael Meeks, while he was assisting with traffic control
duties at the first crash scene. Meeks was out of his patrol when he was struck by a passing 2018 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck operated by 53-year-old Gary Todd Thompson of Middleton, IN. Chief Deputy Meek sustained minor injury during this incident, was checked out by Steuben County EMS personnel and released from the scene. Driver inattention was a contributing circumstance in this incident, and Thompson was cited for disregarding a traffic control officer as a result.
Both incidents remain under investigation by the Indiana State Police.
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