JASPER COUNTY | An inmate being transported by a Jasper County Sheriff's Office correctional officer was airlifted to a hospital with a serious injury Monday after a police car crashed head-on into a truck, officials said.
Tracy VanWienen, 35, of Lafayette, was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer and then airlifted to Carle Hospital in Champaign, Ill., with a serious head injury, police said. VanWienen was not wearing a seat belt in the backseat of the police car, according to a news release from Indiana State Police.
The officer driving, Deputy Joe Kopanda, had to be extricated from his squad car about 1:17 p.m. after crashing into a pickup truck on Ind. 14 about three miles west of Ind. 421, according to the news release.
Kopanda, 60, of Wheatfield, was driving east on Ind. 14 when he tried to pass a slow-moving grain truck while transporting VanWienen to Pulaski County Jail, police said.
Kopanda's semi-marked 2006 Chevrolet Impala crossed into the westbound lane. Because of the rain, Kopanda didn't see a 2004 GMC Canyon truck coming toward him and crashed into it, police said.
Kopanda was taken to the local hospital with leg and rib injuries and was scheduled to be taken to Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette for treatment, police said.
The driver of the truck, Dennis W. Flippo Jr., 53, of Rensselaer, was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer with a minor injury.