Rainbows in wreck near Indiana Regi

26 Sep 1993 01:39:43

[From the Bloomington, Indiana _Herald-Times_, September 25, 1993:]

By Jennifer Jill Fowler and Laura Lane, HT Staff Writers.

People came to Bloomington from Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida Friday
to try to identify three victims killed in a traffic accident that happened
Thursday afternoon on a treacherous Ind. 446 curve.
The three victims, Jason A. Wagner, 17, of Indianapolis; Kelly Harris, 18,
of Elsymeyer, Ky.; and Angela A. Myers, 19, of Pennsylvania, died when the car
they were passengers in struck a dump truck while rounding a curve south of the
Lake Monroe causeway.
Two others in the car survived the wreck and are recovering at Bloomington
Hospital. Meanwhile, state highway officials are considering making the road
safer for motorists.
State highway engineers are going to the scene next week. "We have decided
to go out early next week and see if there is anything more we can do in that
area to alert motorists to the curvy conditions", said Chris Ramsey of the
Indiana Department of Transportation.
The state has plans to realign a portion of the twisting road south of
where Thursday's accident occurred, but the project isn't scheduled until 2000.
The stretch of road between Allens Creek and Dutch Ridge roads will be
The accident happened about 1 p.m. when it was drizzling rain and the
highway was slick, police said. The driver of the car, 19-year-old Harry Bean,
Jr. of Indianapolis, lost control of the 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier he was driving
and collided with a Monroe County highway truck loaded with gravel.
Bean survived and is listed in stable condition at Bloomington Hospital
with a concussion, a broken thigh bone, a broken arm and cuts and bruises.
Jason Gammon, 19, from Tamworth, N.H., is in serious condition at
Bloomington Hospital. He suffered a collapsed lung, a broken arm, and a broken
thigh bone.
None of the five were wearing seat belts, police said.
The driver of the truck, 55-year-old Jim Kelley, was not injured. He
veered off the road to avoid the oncoming car but could not get out of the way
in time.
The three young people who died in the wreck had no identification with
them. One of the survivors, as well as someone who had been camping at Lake
Monroe with those in the car, provided some information about their identities,
according to Monroe County Coroner George Huntington.
The camper, Ahohkahay, said the group was part of a "peace gathering" that
calls itself the Rainbow Group or the Rainbows.
He said the Rainbows travel the country living primitively in national
forests in order to escape the confines of civilization.
He said Bean and the others had left the gathering Thursday and were on
their way to visit friends in Indianapolis for a couple of days.
Bean and Jason Wagner had come to the gathering together a few days
earlier, according to Rainbow member Rollin Kuhn.
Rainbow member Chris Thornhill said the Rainbows had prayed about the
accident Thursday and in some ways had grown closer because of it.
"I really think it was totally unavoidable", said Thornhill.
Huntington said the short, winding stretch of road Bean and the other four
were traveling Thursday is as dangerous as "a box of rattlesnakes".
Ramsey, of the state transportation department, is familiar with the
deadly curves on Ind. 446. She drove the road often as an Indiana University
student going to and from her home in Seymour.
"The speed limit is set lower in that curve so people can negotiate it
safely," she said. "Those warning signs are not just an advisory. They tell
you what speed you need to be going to safely drive through the curve."
There have been four fatal wrecks--with seven deaths--along the five-mile
stretch of road between the causeway and the Lawrence County line in the past
six years.
Ramsey said that while motorist safety is the primary concern of the
highway department, the state is limited in what it can do to make every road
as safe as possible. On dangerous sections such as the one on Ind. 446,
warning signs and reduced speed limits are imposed in hopes of limiting
"You have to rely on motorists paying attention to the warnings," Ramsey
said. The speed limit in the area is 40 mph with warning signs telling drivers
to slow to 30 or 35 mph through the curves.
"Most of the past accidents were from driver error," she said. "Maybe the
police need to patrol that area awhile to get people to slow down."
Ramsey said the state cannot undertake projects like realigning the curvy
sections of Ind. 446 without lots of planning time.
"We can't just go out and do it tomorrow because there was a bad accident
there," she said. "There's design work, right-of-way purchases and other things
that take time." -30-
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