Statement issued Friday morning by the Indiana State Police:
Bristol – The Indiana State Police continue to piece together the tragic events that transpired last evening that claimed the lives of seven individuals on the Indiana Toll Road (80/90) near the 103.5 mile marker in Bristol.
The ongoing investigation has confirmed that the driver of a 1998 Toyota minivan struck a deer in the driving lane shortly before his vehicle was rear ended by a 2006 Freightliner semi pulling a trailer. The Toyota Sienna minivan contained ten occupants and is registered out of Chicago, Illinois. Seven of the ten occupants died at the scene as a result of their injuries sustained in the crash. One male occupant was taken to Elkhart General Hospital where he is listed in stable condition. A man and a woman were both airlifted to South Bend Memorial Hospital, and are in critical condition. The driver of the semi, Jesse F. Donovan, 24, from Johnston, Rhode Island, was taken by ambulance to Elkhart General Hospital. The truck that he was driving is owned by Roehl Transport Inc. out of Marshfield, Wisconsin. Donovan was treated for minor injuries and later released. A preliminary test for alcohol came back negative.
Investigators are trying to determine the speed of the van and its location just prior to it being struck by the semi. It is currently unknown why Donovan was unable to avoid hitting the van.
At this time the names and identities of the parties that were in the minivan are not being released. The state police have learned from one passenger from the van that several of the occupants were originally from Ecuador and that they are all related, but from different families. It is believed that they have been living in the Chicago area for several years. The decedents range in age from an infant to an adult. Positive identification is expected to happen later today, and all ten names will be released.