La PORTE – Emergency personnel responded to a trio of accidents — including one that may have resulted in serious injury — that happened within an hour along U.S. 20 and Ind. 39 on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the La Porte County Sheriff's Department, the first accident occurred around 3:22 p.m., near the intersection at U.S. 20 and Ind. 39.
Vincent Catlin of La Porte was approaching the intersection from northbound Ind. 39 in his 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo when he attempted to stop his vehicle at the red light. His brake pedal went straight to the floor, however, and he was unable to stop his car, according to a report from the sheriff's department.
He then swerved his vehicle to the right to avoid the car in front of him, but the action caused him to drive straight into the rear end of a 2017 Chevrolet Malibu stopped at the southbound turn lane on U.S. 20, the report said. The collision caused the rear end of the Malibu to smash into a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze stopped next to it.
The crash knocked the Cruze's driver, Brett Parry of Michigan City, unconscious, according to police. First responders airlifted him to South Bend Memorial Hospital with possible internal injuries.
The other drivers also reported injuries, with Catlin suffering a possibly broken nose, which was slightly bleeding following the crash. The Malibu's driver, Thomas Thode of Rolling Prairie, complained of chest pain, likely from his seat belt, police said.
One of the responding officers checked the Monte Carlo's brake pedal at the scene, and said it went straight down and would not come back up, as Catlin described, the report said. The officer also noticed brake fluid underneath and trailing up to the vehicle, suggesting the system went out shortly before the collision.
The officer issued Catlin a citation for operating a vehicle without financial responsibility.
The second crash occurred on U.S. 20 just west of Ind. 39 near Springville Road at 3:41 p.m., while first responders were still at the scene of the initial accident.
Alfred Laskoske of La Porte told police he was driving his tow truck east on U.S. 20 in response to the collision when he attempted to pass a 2016 Ford Focus that had moved into the right lane. The car then re-entered the left lane, causing the tow truck to collide with its rear end, according to the report.
The driver of the Focus, Ian Flora of South Bend, told officers he had remained in the left eastbound lane since getting on U.S. 20 from I-94, and the tow truck struck his vehicle from behind while stopped due to crashed traffic, according to the report.
Police noticed the Focus had suffered damage to the rear driver's side corner, however, and not directly straight on. The crash also dented the tow truck's front end, almost directly in the middle of the bumper, the report said.
The damage to both vehicles suggests they were at an angle when the crash occurred, and not directly front to back, police said.
No injuries were reported in that collision.
The third crash occurred at 4:08 p.m., also near Springville Road.
Richard Tarin of Portage told police he was turning west onto U.S. 20 from Springville Road in his 2018 Ford F250 when a 2003 Honda CRV rear-ended his vehicle, the report said. Tarin said he did not see any vehicles approaching when making the turn.
The CRV's driver, Olivia Cloud of La Porte, told police she believed Tarin was eastbound on U.S. 20 before he suddenly made a U-turn, and she was unable to stop her car in time, causing her to crash into the truck's rear end, the report said.
Tarin did not suffer any injuries and drove his vehicle from the scene. EMS personnel evaluated and released Cloud at the scene after she complained of minor body pain, though her car was towed due to disabling front end damage, according to the report.