LEBANON, Ind. – A Michigan trucker distracted by his coffee mug was charged in connection with an nine-vehicle crash in central Indiana that killed three people, including a toddler, and injured more than dozen others, authorities said Monday.
Boone County sheriff’s officials said Matthew Small, 34, of Grandville, Michigan, was jailed after being charged with three counts of reckless homicide. It wasn’t clear Monday if he had an attorney.
Those who died in the crash on Interstate 65 northwest of Indianapolis were Mariah Tomey, 21, Hadley Tomey, 1, and Kaylee Kirk, 19, all from the nearby community of Lebanon. Fourteen others were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
Small told investigators he was driving north on I-65 late Sunday morning when he looked down to put his coffee mug away. He plowed into the slowing traffic, hitting eight cars, according to a news release.
Witnesses told police a fire started after the crash, when one vehicle was pinned against a guardrail by the semi. Officers said the three people who died were in that car.
Another vehicle was pushed over the rail and turned over on the driver’s side, according to investigators.
Sheriff Mike Nielsen said he believes distracted driving contributed to the crash. He called it “a sad day for two Boone County families.”
“Please pay attention to your driving when operating a motor vehicle,” Nielsen said in the release. “Give yourself plenty of room to have a way out, put down your phone or other objects, do not drive distracted or impaired!”