Trucker killed in tanker fire that shut down Interstate 74 in Shelby County

Flames visible for miles

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. - The driver of a tanker truck was killed in a crash that shut down Interstate 74 northwest of Shelbyville on Thursday afternoon.

The crash happened before 4 p.m. near the Indiana Grand Casino.

A plume of smoke billowed into the air from the scene of the crash and was visible from several miles away.

Witnesses said the tanker truck, which was carrying diesel fuel, was eastbound on I-74 when moved into the adjacent lane, sideswiping a car. 

The truck driver then overcorrected and lost control of the tanker, flipping the truck, witnesses said.

"The witness that was driving the car said the fire was immediate," said Rich Myers, with Indiana State Police. "There was nothing anybody could do. Once the tanker flipped over and hit the roadway, it was an immediate ball of fire."

The driver of the car, 71-year-old Tharen J. White of Carmel, was able to escape before his car was engulfed in flames. White was not injured.

Police said an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the identity of the deceased truck driver.

The fire from the crash reached high enough temperatures to cause the road to buckle. 

"This (was) a very, very extremely hot fire," Myers said. "The roadway is down to rock bed all the petroleum and asphalt inside that has been burned up."

Westbound I-74 was reopened Thursday evening.

Eastbound I-74 will be closed until at least noon on Friday, officials said.

I-74 eastbound traffic is being detoured onto London Road and south on North Michigan Road to the 109 mile marker exit, where motorists will be able to get back onto I-74.

Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.


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