Initial report says minivan’s headlights were off before serious Lawrence crash; police investigating use of child restraints

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LAWRENCE, Ind. (March 9, 2016) — The preliminary report from a Tuesday night crash that injured four children showed a minivan didn’t have its lights on and several of the children may not have been properly restrained.

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pendleton Pike and East 52nd Street. Police said a minivan crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Dodge pickup truck. Four children 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, where the driver remained in critical condition after being extricated. 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. A witness told police that he “did not remember observing lights illuminated on the green minivan” but did remember that the pickup 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 and were still investigating why why the minivan crossed the center line.

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