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‘Tragic accident’

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Congested traffic triggered by an asphalt blowout on Interstate 65 is blamed for a wreck that killed an Austin woman on U.S. 31 near Seymour, police said.

Debra Coomer, 55, died in the wreck reported shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday at U.S. 31 and County Road 50N.

She was a passenger in a 2008 Toyota Corolla driven by her husband, Thomas Coomer, 58, of Austin.

The car and a 2005 Chevrolet Uplander van driven by Timothy Brock, 60, of Seymour, collided, according to Sgt. Mark Helms of the Indiana State Police.

Debra Coomer was in the front passenger seat in the Toyota. She was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

She took the brunt of the impact, Jackson County Coroner Roger Wheeler said Friday morning. The van struck the front passenger area.

“It was kind of a T-bone impact, offset a little bit, but unfortunately not enough,” Wheeler said.

The cause of death will likely be attributed to head and chest trauma, Wheeler said. Dr. Wes Whitler was expected to conduct an autopsy or external examination at Schneck on Friday to determine and document her injuries.

Thomas Coomer and Brock both suffered what were described as minor injuries, Helms said.

Thomas Coomer was taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour. He was treated and released, Wheeler said.

Brock signed a medical release at the scene, Wheeler said. He was unsure whether Brock sought treatment.

Traffic along U.S. 31 south of Seymour was heavy and slow as southbound motorists were diverted from I-65 at U.S. 50 because of what was described as a pavement blowout at the 48-mile marker, two miles south of town.

A southbound semi was stopped in traffic at County Road 50N, where Thomas Coomer was waiting to turn left, or north, onto U.S. 31, Helms said in a report.

The semi driver waved on Thomas Coomer, who pulled out in front of the semi and continued into the northbound lane of U.S. 31 where his car was struck broadside by Brock’s northbound van, Helms said.

Sgt. Noel Houze of the state police said it does not appear any citations or charges will result from the wreck.

“It looks like it was just a tragic accident,” Houze said Friday.

The Coomers had just gotten off work at the Aisin USA Plant 1 in Seymour, Mark Handloser of Aisin said Friday.

Helms was assisted at the scene by Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Vernon Township Fire Department and the Jackson County coroner’s office.

State police and the Indiana Department of Transportation diverted southbound traffic off the interstate at Seymour about 3 p.m. because of the asphalt problem on or near a bridge, Harry Maginity of INDOT said.

The right southbound lane reopened to traffic shortly after 7 p.m. The left southbound lane is expected to remain closed for several days while repairs are made.

“Motorists are urged to use caution and be alert for slowed and backed up traffic and delays,” Houze said.

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