GARY | Indiana State Police reopened all lanes of traffic on Interstate 65 just after 11 a.m. Tuesday after two crashes closed them for more than eight hours.
The first accident occurred at 2:36 a.m. on the overpass above Ridge Road, Indiana State Police Sgt. Chad Woody said. A semi-tanker jack-knifed and struck another semi and a passenger vehicle, he said.
No one was injured in that accident, Woody said.
At 3:24 a.m., three semis approaching the backup from the earlier crash were involved in a chain reaction, rear-end crash.
Police said a 2010 Peterbilt semi pulling an empty box trailer for a Nebraska company was stopped in the right lane approaching the accident scene.
A 2014 Freightliner pulling a box trailer loaded with 26,000 pounds of clothing heading to Nordstrom's was slowing down behind the Peterbilt when it was struck from behind by a 2013 Freightliner. The force pushed the second semi into the rear of the first.
Regina Tardif, 38, of Jay, Maine, the driver of the third semi, had to be extricated from the vehicle. Her co-driver — Glenn Engler, 42, of Weston, Mich. — was in the sleeper section of the tractor at the time of the crash.
Both Tardif and Engler were taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart with non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver of the second semi — Jeansley Olcima, 24, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and his co-driver, Pierre Calvaire, 44, of Miami — were also taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart with non life-threatening injuries, police said. Calvaire was in the sleeper section of the tractor at the time of the crash.
After Tardif was removed from the tractor, it caught fire, igniting the clothing in Olcima's trailer. Gary, Hobart and Lake Station fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze.
When Tardif's tractor was being towed away, it again caught fire on southbound I-65 just south of U.S. 30. Merrillville fire crews extinguished the fire.
The two right lanes of southbound I-65 just south of U.S. 30 were closed for about 20 minutes as crews worked that fire.
The water used to douse the flames on the initial blaze froze on the road, Woody said. Crews applied de-icing agents multiple times before all lanes reopened about 10:15 a.m.
Woody said state police received a report of another jack-knifed semi on northbound I-65 just south of Ridge Road about 10:30 a.m. as troopers were preparing to open the right lane to traffic.
Dispatchers said the report was unfounded.
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