A westbound Fraley and Shilling tractor trailer carrying a load of steel rolled Monday shortly after 10:30 a.m., and resulted in a two-mile section of SR 244, west of Richland, being closed for nearly four hours. Following a lengthy extrication process, a passenger, identified as Penelope Rogers, 48, of Laurel, was air-lifted to the trauma center at Methodist Hospital.
Following the roll over, with assistance from initial responders, the driver, 48-year-old David Thompson of Laurel was able to exit the inverted vehicle although his front seat passenger, Rogers, was trapped inside.
Responders worked for nearly two hours before freeing the injured woman. Following initial treatment, Rogers was taken to a waiting Stat flight air ambulance for transport to the Indianapolis trauma center. The full extent of her injuries was unknown at press time. Although complaining of right arm pain, Thompson refused additional treatment and was released at the scene,
According to Thompson, he was westbound when his vehicle drifted to the right and left the shoulderless road and entered a side ditch. Efforts by the Franklin County man to regain control of his vehicle were unsuccessful and the out of control vehicle struck and severed two Duke Energy power poles before rolling, losing its load of steel, and finally coming to rest.
“I was talking to Penelope (and) when I looked up I was off the road and just got pulled in — I couldn’t get out, basically at that point I was just holding,” Thompson said at the scene.
After leaving the road, the tractor tailer traveled a short distance before striking and severing the first of two Duke Energy power poles downing power lines. After coming to a stop on it’s top nearly 200 feet from where it initially left the road, diesel fuel also began leaking from a fuel tank causing initial concern for responders and the trapped Franklin County woman.
Due to the severity of the accident and the inability to immediately get to the trapped passenger, a call for mutual aid from Rushville Township Volunteer Fire Department was requested. Nearly 90 minutes after the accident and aided by multiple trucks from Davis Towing, responders were able to safely gain access to Rogers and remove her from the cab.
According to investigating officer, Indiana State Police trooper Eric Downey, it was unknown if speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident and fortunately the injuries were not more severe.
Assisting the aforementioned departments at the scene were the Rush County Sheriff’s Department, RMH Ambulance, Duke Energy and INDOT.
Due to an INDOT road improvement project on U.S. 52 between Rushville and Andersonville in Franklin County, SR 244 is currently an alternative truck route for east and westbound traffic.
As a result of the downed power lines and the cleanup efforts, SR 244 remained closed until shortly before 2:30 p.m.