Wednesday October 17 4:01 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Semi Hits Newton County Sheriff’s Police Car

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Preliminary investigation by Trooper Rogelio Escutia revealed at approximately 12:05 a.m., this morning, a 2016 International semi pulling a box trailer, owned by Westside Transport out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and driven by Maurice Watkins Junior, 30 of Joliet, Illinois was north bound on U.S. 41 just south of U.S. 24, in the left lane when he failed for unknown reasons to yield to emergency vehicles.

A 2015 Dodge Charger police car, owned by Newton County Sheriff’s Department, and driven by Deputy Jesse Wallace, 25 of Demotte was parked in the left turn lane at the above location on a traffic stop. A Kentland police officer was stopped with Wallace just to the right of him. Both police cars had their emergency LED lights activated.

Parked in front of Wallace’s police car in the left turn lane was a 2007 Nissan Altima that had been driven by Aliena K. Mullins, 19 of Evansville, IN. Also at the scene was a tow truck (CR Towing) that was directly in front of the Nissan preparing to tow it. The tow truck also had its amber warning lights on.

Watkins made an evasive movement to avoid the emergency vehicles by going towards the median but struck Wallace’s police car. This pushed Wallace’s police car into the Altima. The Kentland police car and the tow truck were not struck. The semi was hauling 43,000 pounds of food items.

Mullins was detained and seated in the rear passenger compartment of Wallace’s police car when it was hit. Two other occupants from the Altima, Emma Hann, 19 of Evansville and Deana Goins, 19 of Evansville were outside the Nissan to its right hand side during the time of the crash when they were struck.

Mullins, Hann, and Goins were taken to Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka, Illinois with minor non-life threatening injuries. A third occupant, a juvenile, was seated in the Kentland’s police car at the time of the crash and was later picked up from the scene by a parent.

Watkins was cited for Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle and other infractions.

The two officers were not injured.

The left lane on north bound U.S. 41 at this location was closed until 11:45 a.m., for treatment and transporting of the injured, clean-up of the scene, and reconstruction of the crash.

Assisting: Crash Reconstructionist Corporal Glen Katayama, Trooper William Stancy, Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Kentland Police Department, EMS personnel, CR Towing and Farney’s Towing.

All criminal defendants are to be presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.