Drugs were a contributing factor in a fatal accident that included a car and semi being fully engulfed in flames Thursday evening on Interstate 70, police said.
Wayne County deputies responded to a three-vehicle crash shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, July 9, a little west of the I-70 Cambridge City exit, just west of a construction zone.
Deputies arrived to find a Chevrolet car and semi pulling a box trailer off the left side of eastbound I-70 fully engulfed, according to a news release from Indiana State Police Sgt. John Bowling.
Fire departments from Cambridge City, Greens Fork and Hagerstown responded to extinguish the flames.
In a joint effort, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department requested Indiana State Police Crash Scene Reconstruction Investigators work the traffic investigation and they would take the criminal investigation.
The preliminary investigation indicates that a 2004 Kenworth Tractor pulling a loaded box trailer was eastbound in the right (driving lane) when the truck came upon traffic that was slowed to merge left into the left passing lane for a construction zone.
The Kenworth failed to slow down and hit a Chevrolet passenger car in the rear that was slowed in the right lane, pushing it forward into the left rear corner of a semi trailer, which also was in the right lane directly in front of the passenger car, police said.
The first semi continued pushing the passenger car into the left lane and eventually off onto the berm of the left lane, where the two vehicles burst into flames.
A passerby was able to pull the car’s driver out of the vehicle, but none of his passengers, Bowling said. The car’s driver, Aaron Bruce, 34, who has an address from Kansas City, Missouri, was transported to a hospital in Indianapolis with severe injuries.
Indiana State Police Investigators have confirmed four children died in the car: Anesa Noel Acosta, 15; Quintin Michael McGowan, 13; Brekkin Riley Bruce, 8; and Trentin Beau Bruce, 6.
The driver of the Kenworth, Corey Withrow, 31, of Camden, Ohio, escaped his burning semi with non-life-threatening injuries. He was transported to Reid Health in Richmond.
The driver of the second semi, Thomas Flaherty, 57, of Springfield, Ohio, was uninjured.
A preliminary criminal investigation by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department indicates that drugs were a contributing factor in causing the crash, Bowling said.
Withrow was arrested at 1:20 a.m. Friday and booked into the Wayne County Jail on preliminary charges of reckless homicide and operating while intoxicated (Level 5 felonies) and operating while intoxicated (Level 4 felony). He was still incarcerated as of 8 a.m. Friday.
Those involved in Indiana State Police’s preliminary investigation include Trooper Ray Otter and Crash Reconstruction Investigators Sgt. Danielle Elwood-Henderson, Master Trooper Coley McCutcheon and Trooper Mark Hanna. ISP investigators were assisted by Wayne County Coroner Ron Stevens.
I-70 eastbound was reopened about 5 a.m. Friday.
Traffic was congested along U.S. 40 on Thursday evening throughout nearby communities including Dublin and Cambridge City as vehicles were routed off the interstate.

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