Charges dismissed against truck driver in deadly Boone County crash

Crime in Indianapolis
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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — A Boone County judge dismissed charges against a semi truck driver involved in a January crash that killed three people.

The crash happened on I-65 in Boone County. Police said Matthew Lewis Small was talking on the phone with a headset and setting down his coffee when he ran into stopped traffic near the Zionsville exit ramp at mile marker 129.

Mariah Tomey, 21, Hadley Tomey, 1, and Kaylee Kirk, 19, all of Lebanon, were killed in the crash.

“I know that he struggles on a daily basis,” said defense attorney Todd Meyer.

Todd Meyer who represented Small claims his client is relieved the reckless homicide charges have been dismissed, but echoed a handwritten note by Small following his arrest in which he said he was in agony over the ordeal.

“This dismissal doesn’t dismiss the pain in his heart he feels over the whole situation,” said Meyer.

In the order to dismiss the criminal case, the judge found Small was well rested, sober and driving the speed limit. 

The judge wrote, “The Court would be remiss if it did not acknowledge the horrible tragedy which occurred the morning of January 5, 2020, in Boone County. This Court’s heart goes out to the victims and their families for the devastating losses. However, the fact that horrendous result comes from an individual’s actions does not alone support the prosecution of criminal charges. The Rule of Law requires that we examine the act itself under set of circumstances to determine criminality. As tragic as this accident was, it was just that, an accident caused by the Defendant’s negligence but not criminal conduct.”

“There were no warning signs and nothing to notify anybody that traffic could be slowed or stopped,” said Meyer.

The judge also noted the design of the interstate, which is being rebuilt, may have been a factor in the crash and created a danger beyond the suspects control.

“Being a Boone county guy, I’m familiar with that exit ramp and it backs up frequently,” said Meyer.

The state of Indiana has already filed a different complaint seeking just over five thousand dollars in repair costs and Meyer suspects the families will file their own civil suits as well.

“In this particular case the criminal court judge found this wasn’t the proper venue to be in and their justice can come in a different form,” said Meyer.

Statement from Prosecutor Kent Eastwood:

On Friday, October 2, 2020 Superior Court 2 Judge Petit granted the defense motion to dismiss. In summary, the Court found the evidence presented in the probable cause affidavit would not be sufficient for the trier of fact to find that the actions of the Defendant on January 5, 2020 were a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct by which to hold him criminally liable.

At this time, the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the Court’s order to determine what action, if any, should be taken next. As part of that review, we will meet with investigators to determine if there is additional evidence not previously presented to Court. The Court’s ruling does not preclude the State from re-filing this matter if it is able to present additional sufficient evidence in support of criminal charges. Any individuals or businesses referred to above should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.

In a different case earlier this year a truck driver from Missouri was convicted on three counts of reckless homicide for causing a deadly crash on I-465.

That crash in July 2019 killed a mother and her two kids.

Prosecutors in that case claim Bruce Pollard had been speeding in a construction zone for several miles and failed to brake before the collision.

Pollard was sentenced to 9 years in prison.

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