West Creek Twp., IN Auto And Truck Crash, Jul 1994


West Creek Twp. - Tragedy struck twice in rural Lowell Thursday, when six people, including at least four children, were killed in separate car-truck collisions.
An early morning crash killed five people at the southern junction of Ind. 2 and U.S. 41, southwest of Lowell. And a crash Thursday night killed one person at the intersection of Clay Street and 157th Avenue, northeast of town.
Stuffed animals lay strewn across Ind. 2 on Thursday, a grim reminder of the first crash, which occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Police and fire officials were in shock as they surveyed the wreckage.
The victims were among eight people packed into a small, four-door car. All but the driver were from Chicago.
An East St. Louis, Ill., woman drove the car eastbound into the intersection from Ind. 2 without stopping for the flashing red light and stop sign, police said. A farm truck struck it broadside.
The driver, ROBERTA DARDEN, 59, died at the scene. Her daughter-in-law, ELISSA DARDEN of 3310 Palmer St. was in the passenger seat; she was in critical condition late Thursday at St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point.
Three of ELISSA DARDEN'S children died in the crash; PRINCESS McCullough, 12, and PRINCE, 10, were in the back seat; and PRENTIS, 11, was in the front seat between the women.
PRINT, 4, was on ELISSA'S lap, and was in critical condition at St. Anthony.
Also in the rear seat was LORRAINE TUCKER of 720 N. Central St.; she was in critical condition at St. Anthony. Her daughter, KHALIL, 13, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Anthony.
The driver of the truck, Patrick Barrett, 50, of Boswell, Ind., was unhurt.
Officials were not releasing the name of the victim in the Thursday night crash in Eagle Creek Township, which involved a pickup truck and a station wagon. The impact of the crash sent the station wagon into the middle of a soybean field.
At least one other victim was transported to St. Anthony. The driver of the truck reportedly was not injured.
Lake County Commissioner Ernest Niemeyer, R-Lowell, said state officials have denied several requests to have a stoplight put at the intersection of Ind. 2 and U.S. 41.
"Something's got to be done," he said.
"It's a matter of life and death."
But a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation said studies have shown the intersection would not benefit from a stoplight.
"The basic problem is that you have very low volume," Steve Owens said.
"In that kind of situation, it doesn't warrant a signal."
"If you put a stop signal out in the middle of nowhere, you may actually aggravate the problem, because people aren't expecting it," he said.
"In areas where you have high speed, you do tend to have had accidents."

The Times Munster Indiana 1994-07-15