Grandmother of girls killed in crash lost 'sunshine of her life'

2013-08-17T21:15:00Z 2013-08-19T16:08:17Z Grandmother of girls killed in crash lost 'sunshine of her life'Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1307, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

The grandmother of two Merrillville girls killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 65 said Saturday that her life has become a nightmare she can't wake up from.

Veronica Goldman-House, 55, of Merrillville, said the loss of her two granddaughters in the crash Thursday night has been devastating.

"They were the sunshine of my life on a rainy day. I loved those girls," Goldman-House said.

Her granddaughters, Yazmin Goldman, 5, and Arielle Goldman, 3, were among seven people killed Thursday in the crash along I-65 in Jasper County.

The crash also claimed the lives of five others, including the girl's mother, Lindsey Williams, 27, of Merrillville; Amando Mangual, 49, of Merrillville; and Atlanta residents Yvette Williams, 35; Jamin Osborne, 5, and Jasmin Osborne, 7.

Indiana State Police said a 2005 Jeep Cherokee driven by Yvette Williams was crushed between two semitrailers.

Officers responded to the crash at 9:52 p.m. on northbound Interstate 65 just south of Ind. 2.

Steven Crockett, 33, of Union, Ohio, was driving a 2012 Freightliner semi with the Jeep Cherokee following behind.

The Freightliner and Jeep stopped because of a traffic backup approaching a work zone, police said.

A 2007 Volvo semitractor, driven by Howard Stratton, 55, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was traveling behind the Jeep and rear-ended it, pushing it into the back of the Freightliner's trailer.

The collision caused the Jeep to burst into flames.

Goldman-House said she has good memories of the two girls. They were the daughters of her son, Dakota Goldman, the boyfriend of Lindsey Williams.

Both children were "girly girls," with the oldest aspiring to be a princess when she grew up.

Goldman-House said the girls inspired her to go back to school and get her education.

"They were like my happy place," Goldman-House said.

Indiana State Police Cpl. William Jones said Saturday the crash remains under investigation while police continue interviewing witnesses, reconstructing the accident scene and conducting brake tests on the 2007 Volvo semitractor driven by Stratton.

"We're still doing our due diligence. This is a huge thing," Jones said.

The first semitrailer driver, Crockett, was uninjured. The other semi driver, Stratton, was treated and released for minor injuries from Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospital in Crown Point, Jones said.

No charges have been filed and all evidence will be forwarded to the Jasper County prosecutor's office for possible future charges.

Jones declined to comment when asked if Stratton had any prior tickets or citations.

Stratton couldn't be reached for comment.

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