No serious injuries in I-65 pileup

UNIONTOWN

Emergency responders pulled a woman and her 10-month-old son out of their car after it was crushed in a six-vehicle wreck Wednesday on Interstate 65 near Uniontown.

A 1999 Nissan Altima driven by Karen Robbins, 30, of Georgetown, was struck in the rear by a semitrailer truck that had hit two other vehicles. Her car then was pushed into another vehicle and wound up under the rear of a box truck.

Six people were injured, including two who were taken to hospitals by helicopter, but no one was seriously hurt, according to Indiana State Police Trooper Jacob Tolle’s report.

Given the condition of Robbins’ car when crews arrived, Robbins and her son were fortunate to make it out alive, according to Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Spencer and firefighter Jason Hillenburg.

Spencer said Crothersville police officers and some bystanders helped remove the infant from the vehicle. He was found secured in his car seat in the back of the Altima and was not injured.

Robbins was secured in the driver’s seat, and Spencer said the car was crushed around her. She talked to emergency personnel the whole time, he added.

“I am a firm believer in the big man upstairs and he has a plan for all of us, and I believe wholeheartedly that that had a lot to do with it today,” Spencer said.

Hillenburg, who went head-first into the rear window of the vehicle to reach Robbins, agreed.

“When you roll up on something like this, you don’t expect to see anybody still alive,” he said. “The hand of God is in her favor.”

With the heat Wednesday afternoon, Spencer said firefighters from his department and Seymour Fire Department took turns using the Jaws of Life to rescue Robbins. Those tools weigh 40 pounds, and their gear weighs 80 pounds, he said.

“We cut a couple times and try to pass it on because it will wear you out,” Spencer said.

Hillenburg said it was a team effort by firefighters, police and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

Seymour Battalion Chief Eric Roll said the two fire departments work well together.

“We work together all the time, so everything just flows in,” Roll said. “We know what they’re doing, they know what we’re doing.”

Around 4:40 p.m., state troopers responded to a multiple-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes of I-65 at the 41½-mile marker.

Tolle said a 2013 International semitrailer rig, driven by Gary Oldenburg, 62, of Gleason, Wisconsin, struck the rear of a 2004 Pontiac Vibe, driven by Daniel Skinner, 25, of Columbus. The impact caused the Vibe to spin around and land in the emergency lane.

The semi continued forward and hit a 2003 GMC Yukon, driven by Bridgette Springer Moore, 53, of Georgia, sending it off the roadway and into a ditch on the east side of the road, police said.

The semi then struck the rear of Robbins’ Altima and pushed it into the back of a 2014 Toyota Rav4 that was driven by Charles Willford, 69, of Lafayette, Tennessee, and a 2001 International box truck being operated by Noble Culver, 64, of West Chester, Ohio.

Oldenburg told police traffic had stopped in front of him. The interstate was backed up because of road construction near the 45-mile marker.

Spencer said his crew was at a fire investigation when the wreck occurred. When they arrived at the scene and saw Robbins’ vehicle, he said he immediately called for assistance from Seymour.

Firefighters removed two doors and the roof of the car to gain access to Robbins, and Jackson County EMS helped stabilize her.

“The patient was a great sport, hung in there with us, talked through everything we were going to do,” Hillenburg said. “She helped us get her out as much as she could.”

Robbins was transported by IU Health LifeLine helicopter to University of Louisville Hospital with internal injuries. On Thursday, a hospital spokesman said Robbins was listed in fair condition.

Skinner was taken by helicopter to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment of head and leg injuries.

Oldenburg was taken by ambulance to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where he was treated for a left hand injury.

Moore and her passenger, Pamela Gunner, 50, of Georgia, each complained of pain in the back and were transported by ambulance to Schneck.

Culver had pain in his neck and was treated at the scene.

Willford and his passenger, Patti Fletcher, 61, of Lafayette, Tennessee, were not injured.

Northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for about 5½ hours for crash cleanup and reconstruction. Motorists were diverted off the interstate onto U.S. 31.

Also assisting at the scene were Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana Department of Transportation Seymour division, New Albany Police Department, 31 Wrecker Service, Howard’s Wrecker Service and Hampton Towing.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.