SALEM TOWNSHIP, IN - One person has died and three were critically injured following a Wednesday evening crash in Steuben County’s Salem Township.
Emergency response crews were called just before 4:30 p.m. to the intersection of State Road 327 and County Road 250 South on a report of a vehicle crash with injuries involving a semi-tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle. First units on the scene located four crash victims inside a silver Ford SUV who appeared to be trapped inside and critically injured.
Deputies with the Steuben County Sheriff's Department assisted crews from the Salem Township and Stroh Fire Departments with extricating the victims from the SUV and getting them to the ambulance crews for treatment.
The preliminary investigation by the Steuben County Sheriff's Department indicated that a blue 2016 International semi tractor pulling a white box trailer driven by 56 year old Kim Whipple of Portage, IN was southbound on 327 approaching the intersection of 250 South when a silver 2008 Ford Escape SUV driven by 18 year old Lucas Corber of rural Fremont (IN) was traveling westbound on 250 South approaching 327.
As Corber approached the intersection, investigators say he failed to yield the right of way to the southbound tractor trailer and continued into the intersection directly into the path of the tractor trailer.
Whipple was unable to avoid the collision and struck the Ford Escape broad side which caused the SUV to travel off of the southwest corner of the intersection and come to rest in an open field.
The tractor trailer came to rest on 327 just south of the intersection. Whipple, the semi driver, was not injured in the crash.
The 3 passengers in the Ford Escape were identified as 18 year old Hayden Pelletier and 16 year old Evander Pelletier both of rural Fremont, and 16 year old Nitika Smith of rural LaGrange. Both Pelletiers along with Crober were flown from the scene by Samaritan and Lutheran Air helicopters to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne in critical condition.
Nitika Smith died at the scene as a result of the crash.
There was no indication that seatbelts were in use in the Corber vehicle.
The weather was clear and the roadway was dry at the time of the crash.
At this time, alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Office.
Assisting the Sheriff's Office at the scene were the Steuben County Coroner's Office, Steuben County EMS, Salem Township Fire Department, Stroh Fire Department, Samaritan Helicopter, Lutheran Air Helicopter, Angola Police, Indiana State Police, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division.
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