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Man killed in I-65 crash


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An Indianapolis man was killed in a fiery head-on crash with a semitrailer rig after police said he was going the wrong way on Interstate 65 on Monday night.

Lee Wayne Oliphant, 67, died after his van struck a semitrailer rig on I-65. The accident happened at 10:33 p.m. at the 85-mile marker, about halfway between Franklin and Edinburgh.

Oliphant’s van was traveling the wrong way in the southbound lane, struck a semitrailer rig head on, and burst into flames at 10:33 p.m., according to a news release from Indiana State Police. Both vehicles slid into the grassy median after the impact, Amity Fire Chief Jackie Brockman said.

Police do not know where Oliphant crossed into oncoming traffic or how long he had been traveling the wrong way, said Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Rich Myers. Police also did not know where Oliphant was coming from or heading to, Myers said.

Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said he was not aware of any 911 calls coming to the sheriff’s office before the accident to report a driver going the wrong way on the interstate. But those calls would typically go to Indiana State Police, Cox said.

State police are investigating the accident, according to a state police news release.

Oliphant was pronounced dead at the scene by the Johnson County Coroner’s Office.

Johnson County Coroner Craig Lutz is investigating and said he did not know whether Oliphant was killed by the impact of the accident or in the fire.

An autopsy has not yet been performed and details might not be available until later this week, Lutz said.

The driver of the semi, Mark A. Thornberry, 59, Indianapolis, was transferred to Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis and treated for minor injuries, according to the new release.

Both drivers were tested for drugs and alcohol. The results of those tests are pending, Lutz said.

Blood tests are required by state law in any fatal accident, Myers said.

The accident closed all lanes of I-65 while police and fire departments worked at the scene. Northbound lanes reopened at 4 a.m. Tuesday, and southbound lanes reopened about 6 a.m. Traffic was diverted to U.S. 31 while the interstate was closed.

Multiple local police and fire departments were called to help. Hazardous material teams were called in to clean up fuel and other automotive fluids that spilled during the accident, Brockman said.

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