At approximately 8:30 pm on Friday, October 2, Blackford County dispatch received a call of a crash involving a semi-tractor trailer and a pick up truck near Montpelier, Indiana. When authorities arrived at the scene about a mile east of the Indiana 3 and Highway 18 intersection in northern Blackford County, they found the pick-up to be on fire. Chief Deputy Jim Heflin and neighbors used fire extinguishers to put out the fire according to a press release.
The pick up truck driven by Robert A Cook, 37 of Montpelier, traveling eastbound had collided head on with a westbound semi-tractor trailer, driven by Jason Long, 43, of Cogan Station, PA, after he crossed the center line. Sherif reports state that Cook nearly collided with another vehicle before driving into the path of the tractor-trailer. It’s unknown why Cook was in the westbound lane.
Cook had two passengers, two of his children, Justin Cook, 6, and Raelynn Cook, 5 who were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Robert Cook was seriously injured, and was flown by medical helicopter to a Fort Wayne hospital. The driver of the semi and a passenger were not injured.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Toxicology tests were conducted on both drivers as standard procedure, and the results are pending. Autopsies were conducted Saturday at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. Crouch said the children died as a result of blunt force trauma.
Emergency agencies at the scene included the Blackford County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Montpelier and Hartford City police and firefighters and IU Health Blackford Hospital EMS personnel.
The children were enrolled as students in Kindergarten and 1st grade at Southview Elementary in the Muncie Community School system. Andy Klotz, Chief Communications Officer confirmed. The school plans to render any assistance they can to the students and staff. “It is such a sad situation. No one is ever emotionally prepared in the case of something like this and our hearts go out to the family,” stated Klotz.
Jim Fox, Montpelier Elementary Schools said the both children had been previous students at the school. “Our hearts are grieving right now. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this difficult time,” stated Fox. Fox also commented that the staff at the school are on deck and ready to be hands on as needed for any and every service, such as grief counseling, that can be provided to those students who need help coping with this tragic situation at the school.