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10-year-old dies when semi hits van in stopped traffic on US 421 near Wanatah

WANATAH, Ind. (WISH) — A 10-year-old boy has died after the crash of a semitractor-trailer and a van Friday morning in La Porte County, the sheriff’s office said Saturday.

The crash happened about 10:20 a.m. Friday on U.S. 421 about a mile south of Wanatah, a town of about 1,000 people in northern Indiana.

A news release from the sheriff’s office did not identify the boy.

Investigators believe a tree service company truck was backing a wood chipper out of a driveway and onto U.S. 421, and a company representative who was flagging traffic had stopped all northbound and southbound vehicles. A red 2014 Volvo semitractor hit a silver 2004 Chrysler van that had stopped or was slowing in the southbound lane for the flagger.

The semi driver, Demond A. Gaston-Hargett, 30, of Ecorse, Michigan, told police he realized too late that the van was slowing or stopped for the flagger, and had little time to react before the crash, the release said.

Christopher S. Lawson, 30, of La Porte, was driving the van, which had five people inside, two adults and three juveniles. The crash trapped all five in the van, the adults in the front seats with the juveniles in the back seat, the release said. All five were taken to hospitals by either ground vehicles or helicopters. The boy who died was seated in the center of the rear seat.

The release did not give the relationship between Lawson and others in the van.

Toxicology test results are pending, the release says.

U.S. 421 was closed about three hours for the rescue and the investigation of the crash.