Teen killed in I-65 crash

A Seymour teenager was killed in a two-vehicle accident in the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 south of the Columbus interchange.

Nikson Cribs, 19, was believed to be driving at an extremely slow speed in a 2002 Ford Explorer at about 3 a.m. Wednesday in the left lane of I-65 about 10 miles south of Columbus, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, Indiana State Police spokesman. Police said they believe the vehicle could have been having mechanical difficulties or perhaps ran out of gas, Wheeles said.

A 2013 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Coleden Hoeltke, 21, Columbus, was also traveling southbound on I-65 when his vehicle struck the back of Cribs’ SUV, Wheeles said.

Cribs was pronounced dead at the scene by Bartholomew County chief deputy coroner Clayton Nolting.

Nolting said Cribs died of blunt force trauma resulting in a basal skull fracture.

Hoeltke was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital, where he was treated and released, hospital officials said.

Investigators don’t know whether either driver was wearing a seat belt, Wheeles said.

An Indiana State trooper who was driving north on I-65 in the area saw Cribs’ vehicle either traveling slowly or possibly stopped in the left lane of the interstate and continued north to find a location to turn around to help when the crash occurred, Wheeles said.

There was no indication that Hoeltke had any time to brake before the collision, and investigators believe he was traveling at highway speed when the collision occurred, Wheeles said.

Indiana State Police still are trying to determine why Cribs was in the left lane and didn’t pull over to the right shoulder if he was having problems with the vehicle, Wheeles said. Cribs’ vehicle was in “drive” gear when State Police troopers arrived at the accident scene, Wheeles said.

Toxicology test results are pending for both drivers, but neither drugs or alcohol are believed to be factors in the crash, Wheeles said.

All lanes of southbound I-65 were closed for about two hours for the crash investigation and for the vehicles to be removed from the scene.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.