SEYMOUR — A North Vernon man who had stopped to help at the scene of a traffic accident on Interstate 65 near Seymour died in a fiery crash Thursday after a semitrailer ran over his state-owned vehicle.
Gregory A. Lawdermilt, 56, was trapped inside his vehicle and died as a result of the collision, police said. The preliminary cause of death was blunt force trauma, Jackson County Coroner Roger Wheeler said.
No one else was injured in the two crashes.
Lawdermilt had stopped his vehicle, registered to the Indiana Department of Transportation, and activated his emergency lights when he came upon a previous accident around 9:30 a.m. in the interstate’s southbound lanes just south of the Seymour-Jonesville exit.
The semitrailer, driven by Robert A. Burger, 50, of Louisville, hit Lawdermilt’s vehicle from behind and ran over the top of it, said Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Clancy.
The semi and Lawdermilt’s vehicle skidded off the interstate into the median and burst into flames.
All northbound and southbound interstate lanes were shut down for most of the day while firefighters put out the fire and police investigated the accident.
Indiana 11 and U.S. 31 became gridlocked with traffic diverted from the interstate, and police attributed at least one other accident to the backed-up traffic on the interstate.
White smoke obscured the sun and bright blue sky above the crash scene as firefighters worked on the burning wreckage.
The fire burned the trailer down to its shell, and black debris from the burnt packages inside the truck was blown into the air.
The first accident occurred just before 9:30 a.m. when Kathryn N. Clayton, 49, of Commiskey, who was southbound on I-65, lost control of her vehicle on an icy bridge near the 53.5 mile marker, police said.
Clayton’s car began to skid, struck the inside guardrail and then struck a southbound semitrailer driven by Glenn J. Jones, 56, of Indianapolis.
The semi stopped on the interstate emergency strip, and Clayton’s car came to rest in the right lane of southbound I-65.
State police said stalled traffic from the first two wrecks contributed to another crash farther south on I-65.
A semitrailer driven by Thomas Beauchamp, 58, of English, overturned in the northbound lanes of I-65 at about 11:40 a.m. after Beauchamp swerved to avoid hitting vehicles stopped because of the previous crashes. The motion of the nonhazardous liquid he was hauling caused the semi to overturn.
The northbound interstate lanes opened by midafternoon, but the southbound lanes were closed until about 5:30 p.m.
Tim Schumpe, general transportation manager at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Seymour, said the shutdown interstate and backed-up highways disrupted semitrailer traffic in and out of center.
“It certainly has caused some delays,” he said.
PREVIOUS UPDATES FOLLOW
5:25 p.m. update
All lanes are now open on I-65 at the 53.5 mile marker in both directions. Southbound motorists will still experience slow moving and backed up traffic for quite sometime yet until the back up begins to clear.
4:57 p.m. update
The driver who died in the crash this morning has been identified as Gregory A. Lawdermilt, 56, of North Vernon.
3:45 p.m. update
Due to the heavy southbound traffic on I-65 and the backup associated with the crash at the 53.5 mile marker, authorities recommend that motorists bound for Seymour or destinations further south exit I-65 southbound at exit 76 (Taylorsville) and continue south on U.S. 31 to U.S. 50 at Seymour where they can then re-enter I-65 southbound from U.S. 50. The current back up of traffic on southbound I-65 is still several miles long and extends well up into Bartholomew County.
3:40 p.m. update
SEYMOUR, Ind. — One person was killed after a state-owned vehicle was run over by a semitrailer on Interstate 65 just south of the Jonesville-Seymour exit.
The vehicle, registered to the Indiana Department of Transportation, came up on another accident on the interstate and stopped with its emergency lights activated when the semitrailer hit it from behind and ran over the top of it.
Both the semi and INDOT vehicle skidded off the interstate into the median and burst into flames.
The driver of the INDOT vehicle was trapped inside and died as a result of the collision. Police are withholding the driver’s name pending the notification of relatives. No one else was injured as a result of the two crashes.
The first crash happened just before 9:30 a.m. when Kathryn N. Clayton, 49, of Commiskey, was southbound on I-65 at the 53.5 mile marker and lost control of her vehicle on an icy bridge.
Clayton’s car began to skid and struck the inside guardrail and then struck a southbound semitrailer driven by Glenn J. Jones, 56, of Indianapolis.
The semi stopped on the interstate emergency strip, and Clayton’s car came to a rest in the right lane of southbound I-65.
The INDOT vehicle was hit by a semi driven by Robert A. Burger, 50, of Louisville.
3:20 p.m. update
Both northbound lanes of Interstate 65 and one southbound lane are open.
Indiana 11 and U.S. 31 remained backed up with traffic due to the interstate being closed for most of the day.
SEYMOUR — A fiery two-car crash involving a tractor trailer has closed I-65 in both directions near the 53 mile marker just north of Seymour.
Indiana State Police is re-routing northbound traffic to U.S. 50 and onto Indiana 11, where motorists can get back on the interstate at Exit 55.
Southbound traffic is being diverted off the interstate at Exit 55.
Motorists can then take Indiana 11 south to U.S. 50. They can get back on the interstate at the Seymour exit.
Indiana State Police expects the interstate to be closed for several hours.
(update 11:23 a.m.)
Indiana State Police reports that the right lane of northbound I-65 has reopened; the southbound lanes still are closed.
The two vehicles are in the median. The center of the truck's trailer is burned out and collapsed and the mangled car police believe struck the truck is wedged beneath the trailer.