Coroner says driver of minivan in Lawrence crash has died

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LAWRENCE, Ind. (Mar. 8, 2016)-- Police in Lawrence continue to investigate the cause of a car crash that sent four kids to the hospital, one in critical condition.

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pendleton Pike and East 52nd Street.

Police believe a minivan crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Dodge pickup truck. Four kids inside the minivan, ranging in age from 1 to 5 years old, were taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, where one remains in critical condition. The others were in serious condition, police said.

Two adults in the minivan were taken to Eskenazi Hospital. The driver was later identified as Robert Valentine, and according to the coroner, he has died. Police say he is being prepped for organ donation.

Lawrence police said their initial investigation showed three of the children were not properly restrained; one of them was in a car seat, police said. Witnesses told police that it appeared the children didn't have booster seats or seat belts; Lawrence police said their investigation into the use of restraints would continue.

The driver of the truck, identified as Madison Cabbell, was not hospitalized and remained at the crash scene to talk to police. Cabbell told police he saw a van without any lights on veer across the center line; he said he couldn't do anything but take his foot off the gas pedal. Another witness told police that the minivan didn't have its headlights on although the truck's lights were on.

Both drivers were given blood draws, according to police, which is standard procedure. Police said there were no indications that alcohol was involved.

Lawrence rescue crews said this was a tough scene for them because the kids involved were so young.

“Police and fire have to walk that line and it’s tough,” said Dino Batalis with the Lawrence Fire Department. “No matter how many years you have on, you can be the newest firefighter or police officer to the oldest, and it does, it takes its toll on you.”

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