At approximately 7:37 a.m. April 18, officers from the Indiana State Police, the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, and the Bunker Hill Police Department responded to a two vehicle crash, in which eight people were injured.
The preliminary crash investigation by Indiana State Police Sergeant Rick Brown revealed a 2004 Chrysler P.T. Cruiser, driven by Zackariah Birdsong, 41, Kokomo, IN, was traveling westbound on Miami County Road 800 South near Angling Road. For an undetermined reason, the Chrysler crossed the centerline into the eastbound lane. An eastbound 2007 Chevrolet passenger van, driven by Tracy Hullett, 49, Peru, IN, took evasive action and started into the westbound lane in an effort to avoid the Chrysler. The Chrysler’s driver corrected and tried to return to the westbound lane. The van’s driver then tried to return to the eastbound lane, but the vehicles crashed, head on, near the centerline.
Birdsong was flown, by a medical helicopter, to a Ft. Wayne hospital with life threatening injuries. Hullett was transported, by ambulance, to a Peru hospital with non-life threatening.
The van was an Indiana Department of Natural Resources vehicle, transporting a Department of Correction labor line crew from the Miami Correctional Facility. The nine member crew was in route to Mississinewa Lake State Park to conduct maintenance type work around the facility.
Six of the nine inmates were transported to hospitals with differing degrees of injuries sustained in the crash. Inmates Norman Clark, 61, and Joshua Kochell, 40, were flown, via medical helicopter, to a Ft Wayne hospital. They sustained severe but non-life threatening injuries. Inmates Shannon Reynolds, 32, Michael Buettgenbauch, 46, Purcell Turner Jr, 59, and Kevin Mullin, 60, were all transported, by ambulance, to a Kokomo hospital with non-life threatening injures. Inmates Joby Merrill, 45, William Spence, 48, and Shawn Trumbull, 49 were not injured.
This is an active investigation, but at time neither the use of alcohol nor narcotics is suspected as having contributed to the crash.