Police arrest semi driver in I-65 crash that killed 3, injured 14

Mathew Lewis Small. (Photo: Boone County Sheriff's Office)

WHITESTOWN, Ind. (WTHR) - A fiery crash in Boone County involving a semi-trailer and eight other vehicles has left three people dead and 14 others injured, according to the Boone County Sheriff's Office.

The crash just after 11 a.m. occurred in the northbound lanes near the Whitestown exit.

The crash shut down northbound Interstate 65 and westbound I-865 in Boone County for about four hours.

The Boone County Sheriff's Office says the driver of the semi, 34-year-old Mathew Lewis Small of Grandville, MI, stated he was northbound on I-65 and looked down to set his coffee mug down, when he ran into slowing traffic.

Based on investigation, authorities say it appears Small collided with all eight vehicles as he plowed through the back-up.

The semi cab caught fire and came to a stop on the shoulder of the exit ramp. Another vehicle left the road and landed outside the guard rail in a ditch behind where the semi pulled over and burned.

Several other passenger vehicles were stopped in the travel lanes as multiple ambulances responded to treat and transport those involved.

Thirteen patients were transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital and one girl was taken to Riley Hospital. All injuries on the 14 patients appear to be non-life threatening.

Authorities say two people, from the vehicle pinned against the guardrail, were pronounced dead at the scene. Later it was discovered that a third person, an infant, was also deceased inside of the same car.

The victims were later identified as 21-year-old Mariah Tomey, 19-year-old Kaylee Kirk and 1-year-old Hadley Tomey.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen released this statement Sunday evening:

“A sad day for two Boone County families. The loss of two young women and a one-year-old child. Distracted driving or driver inattention is a major cause of many accidents on our public roadways. In this case we believe it was a contributing factor in this fatal crash. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office feels strongly that those that cause death on our public roadways, because of driver inattention, should be held accountable. Mr. Mathew Small was charged with 3 counts of Reckless Homicide by the BCSO Criminal Investigations Division and the Boone County Prosecutors Office. Please pay attention to your driving when operating a motor vehicle. Give yourself plenty of room to have a way out, put down your phone or other objects, DO NOT drive distracted or impaired! Keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.”

Crews from Zionsville and Whitestown were among those who responded to the scene.

In all, fourteen injuries were confirmed by Sgt. Chris Burcham of the Boone County Sheriff's Office. Burcham said nine vehicles were involved.

Small was charged with three counts of Reckless Homicide (Level 5 Felonies) and booked into the Boone County Jail.

WTHR/Clint Erbacher

Traffic on northbound I-65 was being diverted at 71st Street in Marion County south of the scene.

Police were also diverting westbound traffic from I-465 getting on I-865 to prevent those drivers from getting stuck in the backup.

Just before 3:30 p.m., two lanes of I-65 north reopened.

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