Crash closes interstate for more than 7 hours

Traffic came to a standstill along a few local roads after a two-vehicle wreck early Friday morning on Interstate 65 just north of Seymour.

Despite a tractor-trailer colliding with a sport utility vehicle, overturning and catching fire, only minor injuries were reported, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer for the Indiana State Police Versailles Post.

The wreck, which occurred around 6:45 a.m., closed the northbound lanes of the interstate between the Uniontown exit at the 41-mile-marker and the Jonesville exit at the 55-mile-marker for seven hours so the scene could be cleaned up, Wheeles said.

Traffic was diverted onto State Road 250 in Uniontown to get to U.S. 31 to head north until reaching Seymour. Vehicles then either continued north on U.S. 31 or used U.S. 50 to get to State Road 11 to re-enter the interstate.

The initial investigation by Trooper Seth Davidson indicates a 2017 Freightliner hauling a box trailer being driven by Gary L. Garza, 61, of Girard, Ohio, was traveling northbound in the right lane near the 51-mile-marker.

His vehicle changed lanes into a northbound 2012 Ford Escape being driven by Juan Soto, 57, of Griffin, Georgia.

Soto’s vehicle was pushed into the guardrail in the median of the interstate before coming to a stop, Wheeles said.

Garza’s tractor-trailer hit a guardrail and a concrete bridge barrier before it overturned in the middle of the northbound lanes of the interstate and caught fire, Wheeles said.

Garza and a 60-year-old male passenger were able to escape the commercial motor vehicle before it was engulfed with flames, Wheeles said.

The passenger was transported by ambulance to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for treatment of smoke inhalation, police said.

Soto and a 14-year-old female passenger were transported to the Seymour hospital for treatment of nonlife-threatening injuries, Wheeles said.

The commercial motor vehicle and trailer were destroyed by the fire, Wheeles said. The trailer contained general merchandise for QVC.

As a result of the collision, the northbound lanes of I-65 were closed for nearly seven and a half hours for crash investigation and road repair.

The crash remains under investigation, but drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash, Wheeles said.

The Indiana State Police was assisted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Seymour Police Department, Seymour Fire Department, Redding Township Volunteer Fire Department, Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department, Jackson-Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department, Indiana Department of Transportation, E&B Paving and 31 Wrecker Service.