3 people, including 2 children, killed in northern Indiana crash blamed on wrong-way driver

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Three people, including two children, died after police say a wrong-way driver caused a crash on the Indiana Toll Road Sunday night.

According to Indiana State Police, dispatchers received calls about a black Toyota driving erratically near mile marker 83 just before 7:30 p.m. Shortly after that, the car turned around and started going westbound in the eastbound lanes.

That resulted in a in a head-on collision involving the car and a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe. Police said the Toyota was in the eastbound passing lane when it smashed into the other vehicle. After the collision, the Toyota crashed into a 2015 Kenworth truck; the driver of a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu swerved to avoid the crash and lost control, going through the center media before hitting crash barrels and ending up in the westbound lanes.

The Tahoe caught fire and ended up on its right side. Passing motorists stopped to help and rolled it back over. They assisted state troopers in using fire extinguishers to put out a fire in the engine.

The front seat passenger, Denita Rice, 42, Painesville, Ohio, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was 1-year-old Bryson Price. Makayla Lanier, 12, was taken to an area hospital but later died from her injuries, police said.

The driver of the Tahoe, Octavius Rice, 46, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Another passenger, 10-year-old Nila Watkins, was initially treated at an area hospital before being airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis.

The driver of the Toyota, Chintan Patel, 32, South Bend, was extricated from the vehicle and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said. Investigators believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

The driver of the Chevy Malibu, Jasmine White, 26, Bowling Green, Ohio, went to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Kenworth truck, Ivan Radov, 30, Berrien Springs, Michigan, was not hurt, police said.

The interstate was closed for several hours. Both eastbound and westbound lanes reopened just before 1:30 a.m. Monday.