The action of three state troopers saved the life of a 51-year-old Charlestown woman Sunday morning.
Senior Trooper Stephen Wheels was called to the crash site at 8 am after a report of a vehicle overturned in the southbound lane on I-65 at the Jackson Bartholomew county lines.
When the trooper arrived he found 15-year-old Nathaniel Bell thrown from the vehicle and lying nearby. The driver 51-year-old Malinda Miller-Bell had also been partially ejected with her head pinned under the vehicle.
Trooper Wheels broke out the front windshield to gain access to Miller-Bell.
That is when Troopers Brent Lykins and Korry Clark arrived. Lykins and Clark took car jacks and positioned them under the vehicle.
They were able to lift the 2005 Ford Free Star van enough to keep the van from crushing Miller-Bell’s head. They continued to break through the windshield until they could get access to Miller-Bell. The fire department then arrived and used airbags to remove her from under the van.
According to Wheeles, Miller-Bell was traveling northbound on I-65 in the van when for some unknown reasons she lost control, traveled through the median into the southbound lanes of I-65.
When the van entered the southbound lanes it was struck head on by a 2005 Chevrolet Avalanche driven by 89-year-old Vernon Thacker, of New Palestine.
After impact the Avalanche ran off the west side of the interstate where it rolled over one time coming to rest on its wheels.
The van also ran off the west side of the interstate where it rolled an undetermined number of times ejecting the Malinda’s son, Nathaniel and partially ejecting her, before coming to a stop on the passenger’s side pinning Malinda.
Neither of them was wearing a seatbelt.
Miller-Bell was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville where she is expected to survive her injuries. Nathaniel Bell and Thacker were both transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour with non life-threatening injuries. Thacker was wearing his seatbelt.
Senior Trooper Wheeles was assisted by Troopers Brent Lykens and Korry Clark. Also assisting at the scene was Seymour Fire Department, Jonesville Fire Department, Jackson County Ambulance, PHI Air Ambulance, and 31 Wrecker Service.