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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:00 am

I-69 work site reviewed after 2 semi crashes

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

The Allen County Sheriff's Department and the state department of transportation are investigating why two semis have crashed at the same construction site exactly a week apart, almost to the hour.

One man is dead.

The first crash occurred about 5 a.m. May 9 at a bridge construction site on Interstate 69 south of Fort Wayne, about four miles south of the I-469 interchange.

The second crash took place in the same spot Tuesday. The accident was reported at 6:45 a.m., although police believe it happened much earlier but wasn't spotted for some time. The crashed truck wasn't visible to people in automobiles traveling past the construction site. The driver was listed in serious condition Tuesday after being taken by helicopter to a hospital.

The Allen County coroner's office Wednesday released the name of the victim in the crash May 9. The coroner said blunt force trauma due to the crash caused the death of Bruce D. Lynch, 45, of Anderson.

The traffic fatality is the ninth for Fort Wayne and Allen County this year.

One possible explanation for the accidents might be that there are two identical construction sites a mile apart, officials said Wednesday. The truck drivers made it through the first site but might not have realized a second construction site was ahead.

At the construction sites, traffic is diverted to a road that runs in the median. Both trucks made it through the first construction site but not the second, said Nichole Hacha-Thomas, a spokesperson for the state highway department.

Steve Stone, public information officer for the sheriff's department, said that in the latest crash, the truck didn't move over and onto the road in the median. Instead, it went straight, crashing through barricades and into the construction area.

“What would cause this is certainly under investigation,” Hacha-Thomas said.

Hacha-Thomas said the speed limit is reduced to 55 mph in the area and 45 mph when workers are present.

“It's one of the most signed jobs I've ever seen,” Hacha-Thomas said.

She added that it was fortunate there weren't any workers present, otherwise it could have been a devastating crash.

Stone said in the crash that happened May 9, the truck did the same thing, driving straight into the construction zone.

He said police will try to determine how fast the latest truck was going and interview the driver to determine why the crash happened.

It's unclear whether changes will have to be made to the construction sites.

“They're (the highway department) getting flack,” Stone said. “Something is going to have to change.”

fgray@jg.net