SPRINGFIELD TWP. — A La Porte County Highway Department vehicle sustained major damage and its driver suffered a minor injury in a crash involving a semi truck near Springville on Monday afternoon.
The crash occurred about noon at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Wilhelm Road in unincorporated Springfield Township, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, which said the two drivers involved gave differing accounts of what happened.
The county vehicle – a 2006 International truck, driven by 66-year-old Richard Lambert of La Porte; and the semi – a 1995 Kenworth driven by 69-year-old Juan Martinez of Port St. Lucie, Florida, and owned by Rubens Trucking of Chicago – were eastbound on U.S. 20 when the crash occurred, according to a police crash report.
Lambert told police he was stopped at the intersection to make a left turn onto Wilhelm Road when the semi crossed the double yellow line into the westbound lanes to pass his truck, the report said.
Lambert suffered a minor injury to his lower arm, according to the report.
The crash caused the semi tractor to land on its side, and its flatbed trailer to flip over in the westbound lanes of U.S. 20. A steel coil it was hauling fell off and damaged the west shoulder of the highway, the report said. The county truck suffered major damage to the front driver’s side.
Martinez, through an interpreter, said he was driving in the left lane when the county truck swerved in front of him, causing the collision, the report said.
However, a witness told police he was driving in the right lane when the semi passed him at a high rate of speed, then crossed over into the westbound lanes to pass the other truck, the report said.
All lanes of U.S. 20 were closed for about two hours between Fail Road and State Road 39 while the damage was cleared. One lane in each direction was opened at about 2 p.m. and all lanes were reopened about 3 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.
No citations were issued.