Sheriff seeks public’s help locating photos, videos of fatal I-70 crash

Sheriff seeks help in fatal I-70 crash in Wayne County, Indiana

The Sheriff’s Office in Wayne County, Indiana, is requesting the motoring public’s help locating photos or videos as part of its investigation into the crash that killed four juveniles on Interstate 70 near mile marker 137 on July 9.

Those with photos or videos of the deadly crash are urged to upload them to this website set up by the sheriff’s department as it concludes its investigation. 

Corey Withrow, 31, of Camden, Ohio, who is currently out on bail, faces nine felony charges stemming from the fiery crash on I-70, after his preliminary urine test taken a few hours following the crash indicated he tested positive for THC (marijuana), MDMA (ecstasy/Molly) and amphetamines, according to Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter.

Retter said authorities are awaiting toxicology results on blood draws sent to the Indiana State Police lab. Withrow may face more charges depending on the test results and “as the investigation continues.”

Gary Gregg, owner of the Ohio-based trucking company, Barnets Inc., where Withrow worked, told FreightWaves he was aware of the driver’s previous drug convictions, but he says he made sure to “observe him” before he headed out with a load.

Gregg also owns G & J Kartway, the home of the Ohio Valley Karting Association since 1964.

Withrow’s initial hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. next Thursday in Wayne County Superior Court 1, according to Retter

The charges include four counts of reckless homicide; four counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death; and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury.

Truck driver Corey Withrow is facing four counts of reckless homicide; four counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death; and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury.Photo: Indiana State Police/Wayne County Jail

According to police reports, Withrow, who was driving a 2004 Kenworth, was traveling nearly 20 mph over the speed limit of 55 in a construction zone on eastbound I-70 when he failed to slow and struck the rear of a Chevrolet driven by Aaron Bruce, 34, of Kansas City, Missouri, pushing Bruce’s car into a tractor-trailer in front of him. 

Withrow and Bruce’s vehicles burst into flames upon impact. A passerby was able to pull Bruce from his burning car, but not his four children: Anesa Noel Acosta, 15, Quintin Michael McGowan, 13, Brekkin Riley Bruce, 8, and Trentin Beau Bruce, 6.

Withrow escaped his burning tractor-trailer and was taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Aaron Bruce remains in critical condition at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining burns over more than 50% of his body.

Gregg told FreightWaves he hired Withrow in 2019, less than four months after court filings show he received three years of probation for aggravated possession of drugs in Preble County, Ohio. Late Wednesday, Preble County indicated it would hold a hearing July 21 on having Withrow’s probation revoked.

He had been previously sentenced to three years of probation and completed a drug and alcohol diversion program in September 2016 for heroin possession and breaking and entering and burglary in the same county.

In Montgomery County, Ohio, Withrow completed a drug treatment program in lieu of a conviction program for possession of heroin in 2013.

Barnets, which has 39 power units and the same number of drivers, has been in business since June 1980 and hauls general freight and paper products, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) SAFER system.

Prior to the crash, Barnets’ trucks had been inspected 28 times and one truck was placed out of service in a 24-month period, resulting in a nearly 3.6% out-of-service rate. This is lower than the industry’s national average of around 21%, according to FMCSA data. 

Its drivers were inspected 60 times and seven were placed out of service for nearly 12%, which is double the national average out-of-service rate of around 5.5%. Barnets’ trucks were involved in three injury crashes and three towaways over the same 24-month period.

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes.

Exclusive: Owner knew drug history of trucker charged in deadly I-70 crash
Feds arrest murder suspect enrolled in C.R. England’s trucking school
Utah trucking company owner faces PPP fraud charges