Two Indiana residents died Wednesday in a three-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 in Warren County, shutting down interstate travel in that direction for nearly six hours.
An Alabama man was taken by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
A preliminary investigation shows that a Ford F-250 truck was in the far left lane near mile marker 19 when the driver made an abrupt lane change, causing the truck to hit a tractor-trailer in the center lane at 11:47 a.m., said Trooper Jonathan Biven, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 3 in Bowling Green.
The Ford F-250 then crossed into the far right lane, striking a second, oversized trailer before leaving the road and running into a row of trees, Biven said. The driver of the Ford, Hershel Olive, 75, of Demotte, Ind., and his passenger, Betty Olive, 81, died at the scene, according to state police.
The collision caused the oversized trailer to exit the right-hand shoulder of the road, Biven said. A modular home that was being hauled by the tractor-trailer overturned and landed on its side, with the roof facing the highway. The trailer the home was sitting on landed wheels up and tilted toward the highway.
A red plastic flag still was fastened to the back end of one side of the metal trailer. Several skid marks marred the road heading into the shoulder and the trees.
By 12:55 p.m., the injured truck driver, Joseph Daniel Donaldson, 70, of Haleyville, Ala., was being loaded into a medical helicopter that lifted off within five minutes.
Warren County Deputy Coroner Chris Smith declined to comment at the scene.
Donaldson was the driver of the tractor-trailer that was hauling the modular home. He was listed in stable condition today at Vanderbilt, hospital spokeswoman Ashley Culver said.
The other truck driver, Terry Beckner, 57, of Bowling Green, was not injured.
The Alvaton Volunteer Fire Department responded with several pieces of apparatus and several volunteer firefighters. The Alvaton large ladder truck was anchored along I-65, parallel to the highway, and the ladder raised so that the investigation into the accident scene could be enhanced by photographing the area along the northbound lane shoulder from above.
Michael Rich of Bowling Green responded to the accident call as a member of the state’s Safe Patrol – Safety Assistance Freeway Emergency. Rich said he is dispatched out of Frankfort to assist motorists from anything such as a flat tire to more serious matters such as Wednesday’s accident.
Veteran truck driver Rick Fieldman, 63, driving for Lucky Transfer, made the best of sitting in traffic on I-65 for several hours by breaking out some Georgia peaches he had in the truck and a case of bottled water for others who were stranded.
Fieldman said he was northbound Wednesday on I-65 in what was light traffic. “Then, whoa, I came up on all the stopped vehicles,” he said.
State police rerouted traffic to U.S. 31-W North in the aftermath of the wreck. Traffic was stopped from mile marker 19 to mile marker 13. Traffic south of the wreck was then routed off I-65 northbound at Exit 6 for Scottsville and Franklin.
“I’m one of the thumb-twirling victims,” Fieldman said of the lengthy wait to clear the road.
While Fieldman waited along the road, his load of 43,000 pounds of raw peanuts sat immobile. It was destined for Illinois to be used to make peanut butter.
Northbound lanes of I-65 reopened about 5:30 p.m.