EAGLE CREEK TOWNSHIP | A 37-year-old woman and her 1-month-old baby were killed Thursday morning in a vehicle crash believed to be caused by icy road conditions, officials said.
Stacy Walstra, of Hebron, died at 12:15 p.m. at the scene of the crash, according to a news release from the Lake County coroner's office. Walstra died of blunt force trauma.
One-month-old Jace Walstra, of Hebron, died at 1 p.m. at Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospital in Crown Point of blunt force trauma, according to the Lake County coroner's office.
Stacy Walstra was driving a Chevrolet Trailblazer in the westbound lane of 181st Avenue at 10:28 a.m. when the SUV began to fishtail because of icy road conditions, the Lake County Sheriff's Department said. The Trailblazer slid into the eastbound lane and into the path of a semitruck.
Viktor Loewen, 30, of Manitoba, Canada, was unable to stop his semitruck in time and hit the Trailblazer, deputies said. He was not injured.
The semi came to a stop in front of John Bryant's farm in the 6300 block of East 181st Avenue.
Bryant, 72, said he was working in his shop when he heard a loud explosion. He saw a semitruck in front of his barn and thought it had stopped because of a flat tire.
He started to walk toward the semi as he called 911. As he came around the front of the semitruck, he saw a woman had been thrown from the Trailblazer. A motorist who stopped found the baby inside the SUV.
A deputy arrived on scene and grabbed the baby from the Trailblazer, Bryant said. The deputy cradled the baby and took him to the squad car to keep him warm.
"I've seen a lot of crashes; I've lived here all my life," Bryant said. "But this is the worst one I've ever had."
The Lake County Sheriff's Department said investigators don't think impairment played any role in the crash. Loewen cooperated with deputies, and the crash remains under investigation.
Bryant said he knew the roads were slick and wished salt trucks would have gone through the area earlier in the day.
"If the state highway salt truck would had been here a half-hour before, this would have never happened," he said.