WALTON — Construction on U.S. 35 north of Walton will be halted for an undisclosed amount of time after a worker was struck by a vehicle Wednesday morning.
Traffic was backed up and down to one lane just past Cass County Road 600 East when a vehicle hit worker Charles Davis just after 8 a.m., sending him into the grass near a cornfield. Davis suffered broken bones and was airlifted to Fort Wayne Lutheran, according to a release by the Indiana State Police.
Once at the hospital, “he was conscious, but he has a lot of injuries,” said Bob Montrel, safety manager of Rieth-Riley, the asphalt, paving and supply company contracted with the Indiana Department of Transportation to complete the roadwork on U.S. 35 between Galveston and Logansport.
A preliminary crash investigation by Master Trooper Ezariah Bricknell revealed that James Paullus, 83, of Logansport, was driving a 2005 GMC pickup truck southbound on U.S. 35 near County Road 500 South. Yigermal Getachew, 38, of Indianapolis, was driving a 2018 Nissan Sentra following the GMC pickup truck.
Both vehicles drove into the highway work zone. Paullus stopped for Davis, who was holding a stop sign to control traffic for a work crew milling the road. According to police, Getachew failed to stop behind the GMC truck and swerved west, hitting the rear of the GMC. The Nissan continued on to the shoulder, where it struck Davis.
Neither Paullus nor Getachew was injured. The investigation is ongoing. Neither the use of alcohol nor narcotics is suspected of being a contributing factor in the crash, ISP said.
Meanwhile, Montrel said all workers have been pulled from the field. They have the option of undergoing counseling, which is offered by the company. Thursday will be a “stand-down” day, he said, explaining that meetings will be held to talk with each of the workers.
Until the company deems it safe for crew members to be back on the job, Montrel said “construction will be on hold.”
U.S. 35 was shut down until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to allow emergency workers access to the crash site. Those assisting at the scene included ISP, Cass County Sheriff’s Department and Cass County EMS.