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Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette
A semi-truck lays on its side after getting into an accident on 1-69 at exit 296 near the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly Plant on Friday.

Trooper, 2 others injured in crash that closes southbound I-69

Southbound Interstate 69 was briefly closed Friday when a box truck barrelled into stopped traffic, hitting three vehicles, including a state police car, and injuring three people just a few miles from where an earlier crash snarled traffic.

Traffic on I-69 was already taxing enough Friday afternoon after a semi overturned near the General Motors plant about 1:30 p.m.

The second crash left southbound lanes closed for 1 1/2 hours just north of Airport Expressway and sent three people to the hospital.

State Police Master Trooper Trent Kiefer was in his police car in the southbound lanes of the freeway with his lights on to let drivers know about upcoming traffic congestion, according to the state police.

As he sat stopped, the southbound box truck driven by Derek Lightle of Sheridan sideswiped Kiefer’s car, hit a Cadillac driven by Tammie Bell of Fort Wayne and sent it into the median, before the box truck hit a semi, police said.

The box truck was then lodged against a sign on the west side of the highway.

Kiefer and Bell were treated and released from a local hospital, but Lightle remained hospitalized, according to state police.

The second crash brought southbound traffic to a stop about half a mile north of Airport Expressway.

Northbound traffic was also snarled, with many drivers on Airport Expressway changing their minds and finding ways around a parking lot that awaited them at the bottom of the onramp.

Both southbound lanes were closed from about 3:10 to 4:50 p.m. when one lane was opened. Both lanes were opened at 5:30 p.m.

Police were parked at the interchange with U.S. 24 to keep people from getting on the freeway to go south.