TERRE HAUTE —
A Pimento woman died Thursday afternoon when her pickup truck was rear-ended by a southbound semi-trailer on U.S. 41 as the pickup truck sat stopped in traffic near the entrance to Walmart.
Charlotte L. Ellis, 80, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 12:15 p.m. crash.
Sheriff Greg Ewing, who responded to the crash scene, said that Ellis was sitting in traffic in her 2005 Chevrolet S-10 when a 2012 Freightliner driven by James A. Bane, 47, Michigan City, crashed into the back of her truck, pushing it into the vehicle in front of Ellis’.
“In this case, I am just sure the victim had no idea what hit her,” Ewing said. “She was killed on impact.”
Ewing said the roadway showed no skid marks to indicate that Bane had braked before the collision. An inspection of the semi’s brakes and tires revealed no defect, he added.
Bane was required to submit to a drug and alcohol screen following the fatal accident.
The crash investigation is continuing, Ewing said, and information will be sent to the county prosecutor for consideration of possible charges against Bane.
Ewing said that Bane told police he was distracted by something that fell off the seat of his vehicle, so driving inattention is a contributing factor in the crash.
Six vehicles were damaged in the crash, which blocked southbound traffic for a few hours Thursday afternoon during accident reconstruction and cleanup of the scene.
The collision also involved another pickup truck that was carrying a variety of tools in its cargo area. Those tools flew off of the truck during the collision, striking three other vehicles and causing additional damage. Debris was scattered for several yards along both lanes of the southbound highway.
The semi, which is owned by Zee Corp. of Pennsylvania, and Ellis’ truck came to rest in a grassy area to the west of the highway, north of the Walmart entrance.
Southbound traffic was temporarily rerouted around the accident scene through nearby parking lots.
Witnesses reported that the semi was traveling at least the speed limit of 50 miles per hour at the time of impact, Ewing said.