**Updated Information as of 03/30/2023 from the Sheriff’s Office**
After further investigation and examination of crash related evidence, it has been determined that 3 of the 4 occupants of the silver 2008 Ford Escape involved in Wednesday’s fatal crash on SR 327, were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The fatal victim was one of the 3 seatbelted occupants.
The crash still remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Angola Police Department.
STEUBEN CO., Ind. (ADAMS) – Police in Steuben County are investigating a fatal crash. They say it happened on Thursday afternoon at SR 327 and CR 250. Three people were critically injured.
The Steuben County Sheriff’s Office says that an SUV with four teenagers inside on the County Road failed to yield to a semi. The collision sent the Ford Escape off the road and into a field.
18-year-old Lucas Corber, 18-year-old Hayden Pelletier, and 16-year-old Evander Pelletier were all taken to the hospital with critical injuries.
Police say that 16-year-old Nitika Smith, of rural LaGrange, was killed. Police do not suspect alcohol but say that they were not wearing seatbelts.
The driver of the semi was not hurt.
The Steuben County Sheriff’s Office released the following:
On 03/29/2023 just before 4:30 pm, Steuben County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the intersection of SR 327 and CR 250 S in Steuben County’s rural Salem Township on a report of a vehicle crash with injuries involving a semi-tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle. When initial responding deputies and first responders arrived, they located four crash victims inside a silver Ford SUV who appeared to be trapped inside and critically injured.
Sheriff’s deputies assisted crews from the Salem Township and Stroh Fire Departments with extricating the victims from the SUV and getting them to the Ambulance crews for treatment. Once the trapped victims were removed from the vehicle, Sheriff’s deputies began their initial crash investigation.
The preliminary investigation indicated that a blue 2016 International semi-tractor pulling a white box trailer driven by 56-year-old Kim Whipple of Portage, IN was southbound on SR 327 approaching the intersection of CR 250 S while a silver 2008 Ford Escape SUV driven by 18 year old Lucas Corber of rural Fremont, IN was traveling westbound on CR 250 S approaching SR 327.
As Corber approached the intersection, it appeared that he failed to yield the right of way to the southbound tractor trailer and continued into the intersection directly into the path of the tractor trailer. Whipple was unable to avoid the collision and struck the Ford Escape broad side which caused the SUV to travel off of the southwest corner of the intersection and come to rest in an open field.
The tractor-trailer came to rest on SR 327 just south of the intersection. Whipple was not injured in the crash. The 3 passengers in the Ford Escape were identified as 18 year old Hayden Pelletier and 16 year old Evander Pelletier both of rural Fremont, IN, and 16 year old Nitika Smith of rural LaGrange, IN. Both Pelletiers along with Crober were flown from the scene by Samaritan and Lutheran Air helicopters to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne in critical condition.
Nitika Smith died at the scene as a result of the crash. There was no indication that seatbelts were in use in the Corber vehicle. The weather was clear and the roadway was dry at the time of the crash. At this time, alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash which remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.
Assisting the Sheriff’s Office at the scene were the Steuben County Coroner’s Office, Steuben County EMS, Salem Township Fire Department, Stroh Fire Department, Samaritan Helicopter, Lutheran Air Helicopter, Angola Police, Indiana State Police, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division