Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
Three die in accident
Two other Crown workers in critical condition
By Shelley Grieshop
Three Crown Equipment Corp. employees were killed and two others injured Tuesday in a crash in Indiana being blamed on icy road conditions.
The five men - all based out of the Crown plant in New Bremen - were on their way back to Ohio from the company's plant in Greencastle, Ind., when their van slid out of control, overturned and was struck by a semitrailer on Interstate 70 at 4:30 p.m.
Killed were Robert J. Roetgerman, 61, of New Bremen, Michael E. Group, 45, of Urbana, and Brian Waterman, 23, of Ohio City.
Injured in the crash were the driver, Douglas M. Bornhorst, 32, of New Bremen, and passenger, Matt Otto, 37, of Anna. The report from the Indiana State Police said the two men suffered internal injuries and were taken to Henry County Hospital and later transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Both victims are currently in critical care units, a hospital spokesman said.
The driver of the semitrailer, Robert M. Morgan, 57, of Cedar Hill, Texas, was not injured.
The state police report said Bornhorst was driving the 2003 Chevrolet full-size van - owned by Crown - eastbound near New Castle when he lost control on the ice-covered roadway. The van entered the median where it rolled onto its side, the report said. It continued sliding on its side into the westbound (passing) lane where it was struck in the top by the westbound 2009 International semitrailer.
The impact reportedly knocked the van off the north side of I-70; one of the occupants was ejected. The crash survivors were wearing seat belts, the report noted.
Bornhorst told troopers he was traveling about 45 to 50 mph when he lost control of the van.
Troopers handled numerous accidents on I-70 at the time of the fatal crash. A portion of the westbound roadway was eventually closed due to the number of crashes, the report said.
Crown spokesman Randy Niekamp told The Daily Standard this morning the news of the accident deeply saddened workers. Grief counselors were being brought in to the New Bremen and Greencastle plants to help employees cope, he added.
"This is very difficult for all," Niekamp said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all their families and friends."
Niekamp said Roetgerman and Group were manufacturing engineers and Waterman was a product engineer for the New Bremen-based company.
Hazardous road conditions were reported across Ohio and eastern Indiana beginning Tuesday afternoon and continuing through this morning. Numerous accidents were investigated locally by area law enforcement, however, no serious injuries were reported at press time.