WHITESTOWN — Two adults and an infant died and a semi-truck driver will face felony charges after a nine-vehicle crash Sunday morning on Interstate 65 in Boone County.
The driver of the semi, Matthew Lewis Small, 34, of Grandville, Mich., told police he was driving northbound on I-65 near the 129 mile-marker and looked away from the road to set his coffee mug down when he ran into slowing traffic, according to a release from the Boone County Sheriff's Office. Police believe Small collided with eight vehicles as he drove through the back-up.
The Boone County Sheriff's Office said Mariah Tomey, 21, Kaden Kirk, 19, and Hadley Tomey, 1, died in the crash. All three victims resided in Lebanon.
The sheriff's office said 14 other people suffered non-life threatening injuries. Thirteen people were transported to St. Vincent's Hospital and a girl was taken to Riley Hospital for Children.
“A sad day for two Boone County families," Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said. "The loss of two young women and a one-year old child. Distracted driving or driver inattention is a major cause of many accidents on our public roadways. In this case, we believe it was a contributing factor in this fatal crash."
Small has been preliminarily charged with three counts of felony reckless homicide and was booked into the Boone County Jail.
First responders arrived at the crash site shortly after the Boone County Communications Center first received calls around 11:05 a.m. The crash involved eight motor vehicles and one semi-tractor trailer.
Witnesses told police a fire started after the collision when a vehicle was pinned against the guardrail by the semi. Another vehicle was pushed over the guardrail and flipped onto its driver's side, the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office said two people from the vehicle that was pinned against the guardrail were pronounced dead at the scene, and an infant was later found deceased in the same car.
The Boone County FACT Team reconstructed and investigated the crash. I-65 northbound and I-865 westbound were closed for about four hours during the investigation.
Sunday's fatal crash involving an allegedly distracted semi-truck driver was the second in Central Indiana in the past six months.
On July 14, 2019, an Indianapolis mother and her twin 18-month-old daughters died in a multi-vehicle crash on I-465 near Keystone Avenue that began when a truck driven by Bruce Pollard, 57, of Sturgeon, Mo., allegedly barreled into stopped traffic.
Pollard initially was charged in July with three counts of reckless homicide, as well as reckless operation of a vehicle in a highway work zone. In August, prosecutors added seven additional counts of misdemeanor reckless driving.
Pollard told detectives he had reached for an iced tea and took his eyes off the road for a moment before realizing traffic was stopped in front of him.
The crash killed Alanna Norman Koons, 29, and her twin 18-month-old daughters, Ruby and June Koons.
Pollard's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 3.
PREVIOUS | Semi-truck driver in deadly Indiana crash that killed three was cited 10 times in Missouri | Why prosecutors consider this crash a crime, but not others |Semi driver from crash that killed mother, twin toddlers showed no remorse, according to court docs | Mother, twin daughters killed in fiery I-465 crash identified | Prosecutors add seven reckless charges for semi-truck driver in deadly crash | Trucker charged in I-465 crash that killed mother and daughters ruled competent to stand trial