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Police caution drivers after 11 crashes in 7-hour span

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) – Police are issuing several warnings after icy roads helped lead to 11 crashes in a seven hour span. All of them happened along I-65 near Lebanon.

One person was killed. Also, a police officer and his K-9 partner were hurt in a separate crash.

Police said the man who died in this crash was 47-year-old truck driver Carlos Partida of Illinois.

Lebanon police officer Tommy Nash and his K-9, Chief, were hit while responding to a different accident. Both are going to be OK.

Those were just two instances from Tuesday morning that have officers asking drivers to be more careful behind the wheel.

Officer Justin Fuston, with the Lebanon Police Department, patrols his town and the highway that passes by.

“We have Interstate 65, which is a very dangerous roadway, that travels through our city,” he said.

“It’s a 70 mph speed limit zone so unfortunately when we get out there a lot of times, even in bad conditions, people drive 70 miles an hour and then some.”

Cars and semis roared by 24-Hour News 8 Tuesday afternoon along the dry pavement. But earlier in the morning, the conditions would have made those speeds more dangerous.

“The officers that I spoke with stated that the road was completely covered in a sheet of ice,” said Fuston.

Eleven accidents piled up outside Lebanon over a seven hour span.

Police say truck driver Carlos Partida hit a guardrail.

When he got out to check for damage, police said another semi driver hit him. Partida died at the scene.

“I heard about it on the radio you know and I’ve got family that run up and down 65, so you know, worries me,” said Maxx Perry of Lebanon.

“Anytime an incident occurs, whether it be a slide off, a crash, stay in your vehicle and call 9-1-1 immediately. Let us get out there, that’s our job to try to make the scene safe,” said Fuston.

But even that has its risks.

A Lebanon police officer was pulled over checking on another crash when investigators said a jack-knifed semi hit him from behind.

“It’s like a family member getting hit on the interstate,” said Fuston. “You work with these guys, you put your life on the line with these guys and it’s a scary thing.”

But it’s also his job. That’s why he’s asking drivers to do more than simply slow down when the roads are slick.

“It’s an intense feeling having vehicles drive by you at a high rate of speed on the interstate when you’re in your vehicle or outside of your vehicle,” said Fuston. “It’s very important that vehicles do get over when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. It’s paramount to our safety and yours as well.”

Officer Fuston, who used to be a plow driver for INDOT, said ice forms faster on concrete than asphalt.

That particular stretch of I-65 outside Lebanon is concrete pavement.