LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — A Boone County judge has dismissed three counts of reckless homicide filed against a semi driver involved in an Interstate 65 crash that killed three people in January.
The judge in the case agreed with the lawyer for Matthew Small, of Grandview, Michigan, that the crash was not a criminal act and dismissed the case. The Boone County prosecutor is reviewing the decision to determine what’s next.
“As tragic as this accident was, it was just that, an accident caused by the Defendant’s negligence but not criminal conduct,” wrote Bruce Petit, judge of Boone Superior Court 2 in the ruling issued Friday.
The crash about 11 a.m. Jan. 5 killed two women and an infant and sent 14 people to hospitals. Small had told authorities he was northbound on I-65 near the Zionsville exit when he looked down to set down his coffee mug and ran into slowing traffic. It appears that Small collided with eight vehicles in the fiery crash, the sheriff’s office said on the night after the crash.
Mariah Tomey, 21, Hadley Tomey, 1, and Kaylee Kirk, 19, all of Lebanon, died in the crash, the sheriff’s office said.
Small’s attorney, Todd J. Meyer, said in an email response to News 8: “As you know, dismissal of a criminal case upon a defendant’s motion is rare. On behalf of my client I can say that he is relieved by the court’s ruling, but the court’s dismissal of his criminal case does not dismiss the pain he feels in his heart for the families who lost their loved ones. The Court’s ruling was the right thing to do as the Court followed the rule of law and dismissed the case because no crime had been committed.”
Meyer’s email response also said, “This situation was an absolute tragedy and Mr. Small has been devastated by it and struggles on a daily basis to cope with his sadness and the sadness felt by everyone involved. The location of where this accident occurred is extremely dangerous and I am glad to see the State is finally taking remedial measures at this highway exit to insure an accident like this doesn’t happen again, it should have taken such action years ago.”
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kent T. Eastwood, in an email response to News 8, said, “At this time, the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the Court’s order to determine what action, if any, should be taken next. As part of that review, we will meet with investigators to determine if there is additional evidence not previously presented to Court. The Court’s ruling does not preclude the State from re-filing this matter if it is able to present additional sufficient evidence in support of criminal charges.”