Woman identified in US 31 accident, loved ones label road a "death trap"

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

A three vehicle accident on US 31 killed Sandra Creech, 51, of St. Joseph County and sent two people to the hospital.

The accident happened Sunday around 2:00 p.m.

Officials say a Ford Freestyle was heading north on US 31 when it stopped to turn onto Madison Road. The car was rear ended by a Chevy pick-up truck that could not stop in time, and the Ford was then pushed into oncoming traffic.

An industrial-sized flat bed tow truck that was heading south on US 31 struck the car on the passenger side, killing Creech instantly.

"A lot of times when we have crashes like this, it is because somebody made the wrong decision. However at this point, there really doesn't seem to be any indication that this happened here today. It just seems to be a tragic series of events that led to somebody's death." St. Joseph County Police Sgt. Matt Blank said.

While crash investigators have found no driver error, residents say all fault sits in the fact there is no center turning lane.

"People don't pay attention. They get in the passing lane and they're going fast and then there you are sitting with a turn signal on and you get creamed,” nearby resident Carolyn Strong said.

Just a mile north, US 31 drops to 35 mph, however the posted limit in the area of the crash site is 55 mph.

"It’s just heartbreaking, today our neighbors have lost someone and it's really sad,” Strong concluded.

Indiana State Police say in the last two years, police have handled 11 car wrecks along US 31 between Kern and New Roads. Those accidents caused eight injuries, Creech was the first fatality.

"There have been so many deaths and car wrecks. You can literally hear it when you're standing outside. You always feel bad and sorry for those families, but it's never you. This time it was my mom,” Creech’s older daughter Sarah Singleton said.

As a hobby, Creech had been collecting rocks with her friend Maria Sunday. The pair was less than a mile away from Creech’s home when the two were hit.

Creech leaves behind both of her parents, a husband of 31-years, two daughters, three grandchildren and another on the way.

"They need to put that turning lane in there, it's very important. We don't need anybody else losing anybody,” Creech’s younger daughter Stephanie Creech said.

Creech’s friend Maria, who was driving the Ford was sent to the hospital in serious condition. Friends say she underwent surgery Monday and is improving.

The driver of the pick-up truck was sent to the hospital with minor injuries, and the flat bed tow truck driver was treated on the scene and released.

The accident shut down all four lanes of US 31 between Roosevelt and Miller Road for more than two hours. US 31 re-opened to traffic around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

As of Monday night, police say the crash investigation continues. The driver of the pick-up truck could be ticketed for failure to yield.

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