A call reporting an injury accident on SR 3 South was received at the Rush County Sheriff’s Department shortly before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The report resulted in emergency response units from multiple departments converging on the state road approximately 3 miles south of town. A second call to the RCSD dispatch center indicated the driver of the tractor-trailer involved was out of his vehicle, but the caller was unsure of the second driver’s status.
Rush County deputy sheriff Steve Houston was the first to arrive on the scene and requested that other units en route close the highway because of the wrecked vehicles and debris in the road way.
Rush County Highway Department employee Steve Hunter was traveling behind the southbound tractor-trailer when he saw dust kick up and witnessed the trailer abruptly cut to the right shoulder of the two-lane road.
“I didn’t see it happen, but I was just moments behind the collision, I saw dust fly and the semi cut to the right, At that point I could not see the other car until I got up closer,” Hunter said at the scene.
Quick thinking and action by tractor-trailer operator Bob Thomas, 49, of Portland, had a direct impact on reducing the injuries of Helen Busald, 55, of Rushville, the driver of a northbound 2005 Ford Escape SUV.
Busald was northbound when her vehicle drifted across the centerline and into the south bound lane and Thomas’ path of travel.
Skid marks at the scene indicated that Thomas locked up his brakes prior to turning his tractor-trailer to the west shoulder of the road in an attempt to avoid striking the SUV.
Speed was not believed to have been a factor in the accident. Deputy Duane Raab said the speedometer in the Rushville’s woman’s vehicle was found to be stuck at 55.
The Rushville woman’s vehicle was struck on the driver’s side. The force of the impact with the larger vehicle broke the front axle and wheel off the SUV, causing the vehicle to spin before it came to rest facing east in the southbound lane.
Following impact, the tractor-trailer traveled nearly 100 yards before coming to a rest.
Thomas was not injured and refused medical treatment.
Following treatment at the scene for facial lacerations and other unspecified injuries, Busald was transported to Rush Memorial Hospital.
Assisting at the scene were units from the Rush County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Rushville Police Department, Rushville Township Volunteer Fire Department, RMH Ambulance and Davis Towing.