TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHR) - Indiana State Police say two crashes involving four semitrailers and five passenger vehicles have left two people dead and westbound Interstate 70 closed near Terre Haute.
An Indianapolis woman was identified as one of those killed.
According WTHR sister station WTWO, the first crash happened at the 11 mile marker in the westbound lanes at 9:41 a.m.
According to Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Matt Ames, five passenger vehicles and two commercial vehicles were involved.
Two commercial motor vehicles and five passenger vehicles are involved, with one fatality. An accident reconstruction team is on the scene. pic.twitter.com/EwxzLb5fnv— Sgt. Matt Ames (@ISPPutnamville) March 16, 2019
"A commercial motor vehicle failed to recognize that traffic was slowing in front of him and of course with that happening, that commercial motor vehicle ran into the rear end of an SUV pulling a RV, and then at that time hit a passenger vehicle," State Police Sgt. Matt Ames told WTWO.
The driver in one of the passenger vehicles died in that crash.
The second crash occurred six miles east of the first crash, prompting State Police to divert all westbound traffic at the Brazil Exit.
Ames said just before noon, 49-year-old Joe L. Robinson Jr. of Indianapolis was driving westbound near the Brazil exit dropped his sandwich, as he leaned over to pick it up, he said he took his eyes off the road and didn't see stopped traffic from the first accident in front of him.
Robinson veered his truck to the left but struck another semi tractor-trailer, causing its fuel tank to burst into flames.
A passenger, April L. Robinson, 45, of Indianapolis was in the sleeper berth of Robinson’s tractor-trailer and died in the crash.
The other semi driver, 30-year-old Michael Workman, was not hurt. His passenger in the sleeper berth, 52-year-old Charles Tolbert, was injured and flown to Indianapolis for treatment, but expected to survive. Both Workman and Tolbert are from Arizona.
Police do not think drugs or alcohol factored into the second crash.