Police say snowy road conditions are behind a fatal crash in LaPorte County that left one man dead and 15 others injured.
At around 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 1, officials say a pickup truck crashed into a charter bus on US 20, just east of County Road 450 in the Rolling Prairie area.
Sgt. Brian Piergalski of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Dept. said the pick up lost control due to inclement weather and ended up drifting into oncoming traffic.
LaPorte County coroner, John Sullivan, told NewsCenter 16, 36-year-old John Kallok of Griffith, Indiana, was driving westbound when he lost control of his pickup truck and swerved into the bus. Paramedics from area fire departments had to extricate Kallok using the "jaws of life."
Kallok was pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma. He was pinned at the wreckage.
The 15 adults injured were all inside the bus, which was new and equipped with seatbelts, and were transported to local hospitals. None of them sustained life-threatening injuries.
The bus was traveling from Four Winds casino in Michigan towards the Mishawaka-South Bend area at the time of the crash. Police say the bus driver's quick reaction time is to thank. The bus driver took the bus through a shallow ditch, and skidded an estimated 300 feet off the road and into a corn field.
"It is truly amazing and thank God for that," said LaPorte Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer as he examined the miraculously upright bus.
The Royal Excursion bus avoided a treeline and successfully stopped after sliding through a shallow ditch and rough cornfield.
"It was all pretty minor injuries, which is amazing when you see the front of the bus" Mollenhauer explained. Half of the front windshield was completely removed, the other half was badly shattered.
Officers said the situation could have been much worse if the bus flipped over.
About seven ambulances and medic rigs responded to the accident including LaPorte County, Springfield Township, Center Township and more.
Royal Excursion released a statement on Thursday:
"We pray for comfort and strength during this sorrowful and difficult time. We extend compassion to the passengers who suffered injuries and to all passengers on-board. We are working to make sure that those who were injured received immediate medical attention."