I-65 crash kills 7 relatives near Demotte, including 4 children
August 16, 2013 (DEMOTTE, Ind.) (WLS) -- Details are emerging about the truck driver blamed for causing a fiery crash in northwest Indiana and the seven family members who were killed, four of them children.
That truck driver had a list of speeding violations and police believe that may have contributed to the deadly crash Thursday night on I-65 south of Merrillville. No citations or charges have been filed in the case so far.
All four of the children who died were under the age of eight.
The loss of 27-year-old Lindsey Williams and her two daughters, 5-year-old Yazmin and 3-year-old Arielle, is devastating to those who knew them.
"She was just so involved in those girls' lives. Very involved. And it's just, oh my God, it's such a tragedy," said day care center teacher Flora Moore.
The family was headed home to Merrillville around 10 p.m. when authorities say their Jeep Cherokee was rear-ended by a semi-truck, the impact pushing them into another semi ahead of them.
"The Jeep was burned, for the most part, beyond recognition," said Indiana State Police First Sgt. Terrance Weems.
"It's sad because I have two children. And it touched my heart because they were always together," said Tiara Brewer, day care center teacher's assistant.
Four other family members were killed in the Jeep.
Williams' sister, Yvette Williams of Atlanta, her young children, Jasmin and Jamin Osborne, and the children's uncle, Amado Mangual of Merrillville.
The full scope of the tragedy was initially unclear to police.
"The Jeep was compacted greatly," Weems said. "So at the time, we were only sure of maybe two persons inside the Jeep."
The crash occurred on I-65 after traffic had slowed for construction.
"The cause of the crash was due to inattentive driving and negligence on the semi-tractor trailer driver's part," said Weems.
That driver of the rear-ending semi, Howard Stratton of Leroy, Michigan, has been ticketed for speeding at least five times since 2006.
Despite a 2011 warning letter from the Michigan Secretary of State just last month, Stratton was cited for failing to submit to a required truck weigh-in.
"There's no reason for a family to be missing seven family members today due to somebody not paying attention," Weems said.
The driver of the semi was not seriously injured. He was hauling food items for a company called Griffin Transportation, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. A manager referred ABC7 to the company's insurance adjuster, who declined to comment.
indiana news, eric horng
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