INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Two men are dead after a wrong-way accident early Tuesday morning at I-465 and 56th Street on the city's east side, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Officer Genae Cook with IMPD says dispatch got the call at 3:49 a.m. that two vehicles had collided head-on. When officers arrived she says police learned that a silver Nissan with a male driver and male passenger had been driving northbound on a southbound ramp west of I-465 and north of 56th Street, where Shadeland Avenue splits and sidelines the interstate. The northbound Nissan collided head-on with a box truck traveling south on the ramp. She says both men in the Nissan were pronounced dead on scene.
The men have been identified as 44-year-old Jessie Fortner of Brownsburg and 38-year-old Rashad Fortner of Chicago.
"At this time there is no apparent evidence that alcohol is involved, but that will be determined later by the coroner," said Officer Cook.
The driver of the box truck was not seriously injured but was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Officer Cook says the truck driver is cooperating and said he told them he saw the Nissan and tried to avoid it but couldn't. She adds he submitted to the blood alcohol test required in any type of fatality accident.
The southbound ramp was closed for three and a half hours while crews cleared the scene. The Lawrence Police Department and Indiana State Police responded to the scene to assist IMPD.
Lawrence Deputy Police Chief Gary Woodruff says the Shadeland Avenue/I-465 interchange is well sign-posted and isn't known as a problem-area for drivers. In order for the driver of the Nissan to have made it to the northwest corner of 56th Street and I-465, the driver may have been traveling on the wrong side of the road for some time.
"A lot of times once you get on that ramp going the wrong way, it's hard to get back off and people don't know what to do," said Sergeant John Perrine with Indiana State Police. "It takes a while for them to realize they're going the wrong direction."
Sgt. Perrine said while the details of this accident are still unknown, there is a specific protocol drivers should follow if they see a wrong way driver or realize they've become one.
"Get off on the shoulder, stop your car. We might be able to show up and help you get turned around safely. But if you realize you're going the wrong way it doesn't mean you should drive to the next exit and exit, it means you should stop immediately, get off the road, turn off your headlights and turn on your flashers," he explained.
If you see a wrong-way driver, Sgt. Perrine says first make sure you're not in the path of the driver, then pull over and call 911.
"Sometimes we can intercept those wrong-way drivers before the crash happens and that's our goal to get them stopped before anybody gets hurt," he said.
IMPD continues to investigate.
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