The cause of a fatal Monday afternoon crash that shut down a LaPorte County highway for nearly two hours remains under investigation. Emergency responders were dispatched at 1:42 p.m. to U.S. 20 west of Johnson Road for a serious injury crash. They soon discovered the driver of a blue Buick passenger vehicle was deceased. Investigators believe the Buick was traveling eastbound on U.S. 20 near Pinetree Drive, suddenly crossed over the center line into the path of an oncoming Able Disposal truck and hit it head-on.
The driver of the Buick was killed on impact, according to police. The garbage truck veered off the north side of the highway and came to rest in a water-filled ditch. The driver was not injured, but the truck’s hydraulic tanks ruptured and spilled about 65 gallons of hydraulic fluid into the ditch, which flows into nearby Trail Creek. LaPorte County HazMat quickly contained the fluids and prevented them from entering the creek.
The Trail Creek Police and LaPorte County Sheriff’s Patrol Division and Detective Bureau are investigating. The name of the deceased has not yet been released. The garbage truck was driven by 27-year-old Christos Paras from Valparaiso. He was not injured.
The crash investigation is being conducted by the Trail Creek Police with the assistance of investigators from the La Porte County Sheriff’s Patrol Division and Detective Bureau, including crash reconstruction investigators. As of the time of this release, a cause has not been determined as to why the Buick crossed the centerline; investigators are exploring the possibility that this may have been intentional. Also, the coroner’s office has not yet been able to notify any family members of the victim in this case, at the time of this release. The driver of the garbage truck was identified as 27-year-old Christos Paras from Valparaiso, Indiana.
All four lanes of U.S. 20 between Johnson Road and Woodland Avenue were closed for two hours while the crash was investigated. Authorities opened one lane for travel around 3:30 p.m. As of 6 p.m. only one westbound lane remained closed as crash debris was removed.