(Photo Provided -The Indiana State Police)
New details are being reported today that the wife and two young children of one of two men killed in a fiery accident shortly after 1 am overnight on westbound I-94 were found dead in their Belleville, Michigan, home when authorities went to notify family members of the fatal crash. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene; they were identified as 45-year-old Juan Nelson, Jr., of Portage, Indiana, and 38-year-old Michael Van der Linden of Belleville, Michigan. Sullivan says police believe Van der Linden may have pulled out of a rest stop just west of the 900 North overpass in LaPorte County going the wrong way when his vehicle struck Nelson's car head-on in the center lane. Indiana State Police say the impact ignited a fire that engulfed both vehicles, leaving the victims and vehicles burned beyond recognition.
Sullivan said it was the "worst accident I've seen probably in 20 years".
6am update, News Release from Indiana State Police:
LaPorte County – Early this morning, at approximately 1:35 a.m., Indiana State Trooper Lawrence McFarrin responded to a two vehicle crash on Interstate 94 at the 43 mile marker (this is three miles east of the Michigan City exit) in which both drivers were killed.
The preliminary investigation by Trooper McFarrin revealed that possibly one of the vehicles traveled from the rest park entrance ramp (just west of the 900 N overpass) onto Interstate 94, traveling east bound in the westbound lanes. The second vehicle was traveling west bound in the center lane when the two vehicles collided head-on. The crash impact ignited a fire which engulfed both vehicles.
After firefighters from the LaPorte Fire Department extinguished the flames, both drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles. The LaPorte County Coroner pronounced both drivers deceased at the scene.
At this time, the crash is still under investigation.
The deceased and vehicles have yet to be positively identified. Once identified and family is notified the information will be released.
The two right lanes west bound remain closed at this time for reconstruction of the crash, removal of the deceased and vehicles, clean up of the roadway.
Assisting agencies: LaPorte Fire/Rescue Department, LaPorte Coroner, Ace Autobody Towing
5am update:Two people are dead after a fiery crash overnight on westbound Interstate 94 just west of the Indiana-Michigan state line. Two cars apparently collided head-on and LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says both drivers, both male, were burned beyond recognition. Sullivan tells us the vehicles burned into the asphalt. Officials were called out around 2 a-m. All lanes on the westbound side have been blocked.
We have updates on-air on the traffic situation in Region Traffic.