BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – Indiana State Police are investigating after a woman was hit and killed by a semi after walking into traffic on I-65 in Bartholomew County.
The crash happened just after 3:30 a.m. Monday in the middle of a 14-mile construction zone about five miles south of Columbus.
Police believe Jarlene Hargrove, 31, Cincinnati drove her SUV through a gap in a temporary concrete barrier wall and got her vehicle stuck in the muddy median of the interstate.
“For whatever reason, she exited her vehicle and we don’t know at this time why, but she entered the lane of traffic for southbound I-65,” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Stephen Wheeles.
When Hargrove walked onto the interstate, police say she was struck by a southbound tractor trailer driven by by 44-year-old Christopher A. House, from Bardstown, Kentucky. House’s semi was then hit from behind by another semi driven by 49-year-old James E. Gause Jr., from Marion, South Carolina. Neither House nor Gause were injured.
The Bartholomew County Coroner says Hargrove died at the scene from blunt force injuries.
Wheeles said investigators don’t know why Hargrove walked away from her car and into traffic. Toxicology tests on everyone involved are still pending.
“As a safety precaution, we don’t want people out walking on the interstates,” Wheeles said. “Definitely not a safe roadway to be crossing or to be standing in, especially with the volume of traffic we have out here.”
As a general rule, Wheeles said it’s best to stay in your car if you are broken down or in a crash on the interstate. But, he points out, there are some exceptions.
“If you’re in a crash, and your car is in the middle of the roadway, you’re probably best to get out of that vehicle if you’re able to and get clear of the roadway,” he said.
Wheeles also said if your disabled car is on the outside shoulder, it could be safest to get out and quickly walk away from the interstate. But in a case like Monday morning’s fatal accident, the median is likely the safest place to wait for help.
“If they’re in the median and safe, we certainly don’t want people to walk across the lanes of traffic,” Wheeles said. “As a general rule, that would be the safest thing to stay in your vehicle.”