TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. — Indiana State Police Troopers are investigating a fatal crash that occurred on I-65 in Tippecanoe County early Sunday morning.
According to a Facebook post published by Indiana State Police’s Lafayette district, Troopers responded to a report of a crash on I-65 northbound near mile marker 170 at approximately 3:30 a.m.
After a preliminary investigation, Troopers determined a Jeep was involved in the accident. The vehicle was driving northbound before it ran off the east side of the road, swerved back across the interstate and then hit a guard rail near the median.
The Jeep came to rest near the shoulder of southbound I-65. Soon after the vehicle stopped, it was engulfed in flames, according to ISP.
One of the Jeep’s passengers was pronounced dead at the scene by the Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office. The deceased passenger’s name will be released by the Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office at a later date, according to ISP.
State troopers reported that the Jeep’s driver fled the scene on foot after the crash. Following a search of the surrounding area, officials located the driver and took him into custody.
ISP identified the driver as 35-year-old Max Vanegas of Indianapolis. During the course of their incident investigation, police determined that Vanegas may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
Vanegas was transported to a hospital for testing and a check up. Police then transported him to Tippecanoe County Jail after testing was completed and he was medically cleared to be released from the hospital.
Vanegas has been preliminarily charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash and operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death — which are Level 3 and 4 Felonies, respectively. Vanegas also faces two OWI-related misdemeanors.
The maximum penalty for a Level 3 Felony — the most serious charge Vanegas faces — is 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.