I-70 East reopens after 6 hours; semis collide in Henry County

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A semi's front end was badly damaged in a wreck in the westbound lanes at the 132 mile-marker of Interstate 70 in Henry County, Indiana, on Dec. 1. Photo supplied by Indiana State Police.

Here are a couple of updates on crashes taking place Tuesday, Dec. 1, from Indiana State Police:

6 p.m. update:
After about six hours, an investigation and subsequent cleanup of a crash on Interstate 70 near the Indiana/Ohio state line has concluded. Both eastbound lanes are now back open. Motorists intending to travel through the area can resume normal travel.

The crash took place at the Ohio 6 mile-marker before noon and required all eastbound lanes to be shut down.

Indiana State Police assisted Ohio State Highway Patrol in diverting all eastbound traffic off at Exit 156 to U.S. 40. Traffic was diverted onto U.S. 40 for all eastbound traffic into Ohio.

Western Wayne News has reached out to public relations for Ohio State Highway Patrol for more information about what led to the accident.

10:35 a.m.: Troopers Busy Overnight with I-70 Crashes, One Serious

Henry County – Pendleton Troopers stayed busy overnight as they investigated crashes on I-70, the first of which occurred in the westbound lanes at the 132 mile-marker.

At approximately 11:18 PM, Robert A. Breskow, 38, of Indianapolis, was operating a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban westbound in the right lane. Breskow was pulling a 1986 travel trailer, when he lost control of his vehicle while crossing an ice-covered bridge. As Breskow attempted to regain control of his vehicle the travel trailer overturned, blocking the left lane. Breskow was uninjured. Troopers responded quickly to the crash and Trooper J.T. Burns investigated the crash.

While Trooper Burns was investigating the crash, a secondary crash occurred in the traffic backup. At approximately 11:36 PM Trooper Nick Albrecht reported the second crash. The second crash, involving multiple semi’s, resulted in the westbound lanes being shut down completely.

The preliminary crash investigation conducted by Trooper Albrecht and the Indiana State Police Pendleton Post Crash Reconstruction Team revealed that a 2018 International semi-tractor, pulling an enclosed box trailer, was westbound in the right lane of I-70. The semi, driven by Emory Rockafellow, 45, of Clarkston, Michigan, failed to stop for the stopped traffic ahead that had been created by the earlier crash. Rockafellow swerved to the right in an attempt to avoid colliding with the stopped traffic ahead but was unsuccessful. As a result, Rockafellow’s truck struck the right rear enclosed box trailer of another semi at nearly full speed.

The second semi, a 2018 Freightliner, driven by Orifjon Usanov, 33, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was pushed forward after impact. It then struck the rear livestock trailer of a third semi, a 2007 Kenworth, driven by Robert Lee, 44, of Lumberton, North Carolina. Neither Usanov nor Lee sustained any injuries.

Rockafellow was entrapped within the cab of his semi and it took nearly an hour to free him from the vehicle. Once extricated, he was transported by ambulance to IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with critical injuries. Notification was made to Rockafellow’s family regarding his condition.

I-70 was shut down for over six hours while troopers conducted the investigation and the scene was cleaned up. Traffic was diverted off of I-70 throughout the lengthy closure.

Assisting at the scene were Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Tyler Painter, Trooper Tom Ratliff, Trooper Michael Thiron, Trooper Steven Tipton, Trooper Brad Tucker, Trooper Jacob Ridgeway, Master Trooper Coley McCutcheon, Trooper Mark Hanna, Trooper Matthew Helmbrecht, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Spiceland Fire Department, New Castle EMS, and Davis Towing and Recovery.

As per Indiana law, drivers involved in serious injury or fatal crashes, must submit to a toxicology test. The investigation is ongoing, pending toxicology results. There is no further information to release at this time.

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