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Friday, August 25, 2006

Experts to Reexamine Site of Fatal Crash

From the Terra Haute Tribune Star:

By Karin Grunden
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTECrash-scene investigators are scheduled to return today to the site of a chain-reaction accident near Perrysville, where two police officers participating in a charity cycling trip were killed Tuesday.
Indiana State Police reconstructionists planned to re-examine the crash scene as well as travel to an Illinois salvage yard to look over two trucks involved in the accident.
Police say Gary Adams, 49, of Owensboro, Ky., was driving a freight truck southbound on Indiana 63 when his vehicle struck the back of a small support truck for the Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors cyclists.
The support truck then crashed into the cyclists.
Two of the riders, State Police Lt. Gary Dudley, 51, of Brownsburg; and Gary Martin, 63, of Crown Point, a retired chief of police for Lake County, were killed.
A third cyclist, retired Indianapolis police Officer Spencer Moore, 61, was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill. He had “road rash” over most of his body and was expected to be released Wednesday, police said.
Dudley, whose death was considered to be in the line of duty, founded the charity bike ride in 2004 to raise money for survivors of police killed while on the job. Tuesday’s group of 10 cyclists had been scheduled to end the seventh day of the ride in Terre Haute.
On Wednesday, State Police Sgt. Joe Watts said the rest of the cycling trip had been canceled and that a ceremony would be conducted later in Indianapolis, where the ride was scheduled to conclude Monday.
Meanwhile, police continued to interview witnesses, including about 20 people who phoned in information about what they saw before the accident occurred.
“We’re trying to glean any information prior to the crash,” such as the lane positions of the cyclists, and any erratic movements by any of the vehicles, said Watts, spokesman for the State Police post in Terre Haute.
The accident happened about two to three miles south of the Interstate 74/U.S. 63 interchange when the cyclists resumed their ride after a lunch break, Watts said. The interchange is 45 miles north of Terre Haute’s Maple Avenue.
Adams and Rocky Bumpas, 64, of Mooresville, the driver of the Enterprise truck that was following the cyclists, were taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Williamsport, where they were treated and released.
Preliminarily, police found no mechanical problems with either vehicle, nor any log book or equipment violations for Adams’ truck, Watts said.
The investigation, which is awaiting toxicology reports, will center on Adams’ actions before the crash, the State Police spokesman said.
“The focus is going to be on why he didn’t maintain control of his vehicle, why he didn’t make an evasive maneuver, why he didn’t brake,” Watts said, explaining that there were no fresh skid marks on the pavement.
A female who answered a phone number listed for Adams said Wednesday “he’s not interested in talking.”
Police are not disclosing what Adams said after the crash, saying only that everyone is cooperating with investigators. Watts said State Police policy prohibits him from releasing such details until the investigation is complete.
Watts said that information about Adams’ statement would be contained in a final report, expected to be completed within three to four weeks. The report will be forwarded to the Vermillion County Prosecutor’s Office for determination on whether any charges should be filed.
In the meantime, two reconstructionists — including one who specializes in commercial vehicles — will try to determine what speed the vehicles were traveling and exactly what led to the crash, Watts said.
As police continued their probe, the remains of Dudley and Martin were escorted Wednesday from Terre Haute Regional Hospital to their hometowns.
A processional of police motorcyclists, squad cars and a hearse carrying Martin’s body drove northbound Wednesday afternoon on Third Street in Terre Haute, bound for a Crown Point funeral home. A similar procession earlier in the day accompanied Dudley’s remains to a Brownsburg funeral home.
Sara Schoffstall of Terre Haute, who had been scheduled to have dinner Tuesday evening with the cyclists, was stunned by the news.
Schoffstall, 28, sought moral support through Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors after her husband, Aaron Schoffstall, was killed in the line of duty in November 2000. The jail officer was assisting at an accident on the icy U.S. 63 river bridge when he fell to his death, Vigo County Sheriff’s Department officials have said.
Sara Schoffstall had been awaiting a call Tuesday from Dudley about dinner plans, and was supposed to discuss details about riding the last mile or two of the charity ride with the officers on Monday.
Now, she hopes to be able to help the families of the victims somehow.
“I don’t understand why things like this happen to good people,” she said.
Karin Grunden can be reached at (812) 231-4257 or karin.grunden@tribstar.com.
Memorial services set
Lt. Gary E. Dudley
Visitation for Lt. Gary Dudley is from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Connection Pointe Christian Church at 1800 N. Green St., Brownsburg. Services are 11 a.m. Tuesday in the church. A graveside service will be conducted in Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis.
Gary Martin, retired Lake County chief of police
Visitation for Lake County Chief of Police (retired) Gary Martin is from 2 to 8 p.m. CDT Sunday in Burns Funeral Home at 10101 Broadway St., Crown Point. Services are 10 a.m. CDT Monday in Our Lady of Consolation at 8303 Taft St., Merrillville.

Copyright © 1999-2006 cnhi, inc.

Photos


This undated photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows Lt. Gary Dudley. Associated Press


This undated photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows Gary Martin who retired in April 2006 as chief of the Lake County Sheriff's Department Associated Press

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