LAPORTE COUNTY | Two volunteer firefighters from Wanatah were seriously hurt Sunday morning in a crash apparently caused by the blinding sun.
Nicholas Poort, 27, was taken to Porter Regional Hospital in Liberty Township and later released, Cass-Clinton Township Fire Chief Larry Rust said.
His passenger, Michael Hendrixson, 35, was flown to Memorial Hospital in South Bend with an internal head injury.
Both men are members of the Cass-Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Rust said Hendrixson was last reported in critical condition.
Rust asked citizens to keep both firefighters in their thoughts and prayers.
"They are like my children," Rust said.
According to LaPorte County police, the off-duty firefighters were in a pickup truck owned and driven by Poort.
They were traveling U.S. 421 and were crossing U.S. 30 when broadsided by a semi truck about 7 a.m.
Police said the semi was driven Trevor Molnar, 39, of Minooka, Ill.
Molnar told investigators he was westbound and couldn't make out the color of the traffic signal due to the glare from the sun.
He didn't notice the light was red until he had gone into the intersection, according to police.
The semi also struck a car operated by James Culp, 81, of Monticello.
Culp complained of pain over his entire body, police said.
A passenger in his vehicle, Cynthia Campbell, 56, of Monon, complained of chest pain, police said.
Rust said the Fire Department will be taking up a collection for Poort and Hendrixson.
"We are looking at proceeds going to the families," Rust said.