Make your home page

IDAVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Police say a collision between a bus and a semitrailer in northern Indiana has killed a passenger and left the bus driver in critical condition.

Lora E. Anderson, 49, of Monticello, died at the scene of Tuesday’s head-on collision between the Peak Community Service bus and the semitrailer.

The White County Sheriff’s Department says the bus driver was taken by helicopter to a South Bend hospital, where she was in critical condition Wednesday.

Police say the bus was westbound on U.S. 24 in eastern White County when it crossed the centerline and crashed into the eastbound semitrailer near the town of Idaville.

DELPHI, Ind. (WISH) — A rural Monticello man died Thursday night in a crash in rural Carroll County, the county sheriff’s office said.

Rodney Lucas, 50, died in the single-vehicle crash. Authorities said he appeared to have been ejected from a 2000 BWM car as it flipped end over end. The county coroner pronounced Lucas dead at the scene.

Carroll County E911 shortly before 7:45 p.m. Thursday received a report of a car in a deep ditch on the north side of County Road 700 North east of County Road 900 West. That’s a rural area about 5 miles northwest of Delphi, the sheriff’s office said.

“The only occupant and driver was located a few feet from the car, in the ditch,” said a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Alcohol, speed and the lack of a seat belt were believed to be factors in the crash.

Witnesses saw Lucas driving erratically prior to the crash, going back and forth between the eastbound and westbound lanes of 700 North. “The BMW was then seen riding atop the guardrail, for a short distance, before going off into the ditch. The BMW then continued in a westerly direction in the ditch and began flipping, end over end, eventually coming to rest,” the news release said.

MONTICELLO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park announced via Twitter that it has a new owner and plans to reopen later this summer. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report Chicago businessman Gene Staples has purchased the park and is planning to reopen by July.

Mayor Cathy Gross said, “The city of Monticello is excited to learn of the sale and new ownership of Indiana Beach. We look forward to working with Gene Staples and his family.”

In February, the park was set to permanently close after former owner Apex Parks Group failed to find a buyer. IIB reported that Apex filed for bankruptcy and was looking for new ownership.

“We hope and believe this is just the beginning of a great relationship and want to thank everyone that has made this possible. What is good for White County and our lake guests and residents is good for Monticello, and what is good for Monticello is good for them,” said Gross.

The publication says the 376-acre park dates back to 1926 and once drew more than 750,000 visitors annually. The Lake Shafer park and resort features roller coasters, a water park, zip lines, an arcade, and mini-golf, among others.

MONTICELLO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The owner of Indiana Beach Amusement Resort in Monticello has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to sell the attraction. California-based Apex Parks Group tells our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana the filing will allow it to restructure debt and enter into a purchase agreement.

Apex Chief Executive Officer John Fitzgerald says the actions will help better position the company for the future and allow it to continue serving guests, employees and business partners, according to the publication.

“After an exhaustive examination of all options, we’ve determined that a sale of the company through the Chapter 11 process is the best path forward to enable Apex to focus on future operational transformation and growth,” said Fitzgerald.

Apex says all of its facilities are temporarily closed due to the cornonavirus pandemic. The company operates 10 family entertainment centers and two water parks in California, Florida and New Jersey.

“We look forward to reopening the parks so that we can continue to provide exceptional and memorable guest experiences for our communities,” Fitzgerald said. “I also want to extend our deepest gratitude to our team members. We recognize this is a challenging time on numerous fronts and look forward to us all returning to work.”

According to The Times, the company will honor season passes at its operating parks.

Apex Parks Group, Monticello and White County officials have been working to secure the sale of the 376-acre park that includes roller coasters, a waterpark, a boardwalk and a sand beach.

PENDLETON, Ind. (WISH) — A man serving an 80-year sentence for the murder of his mother and 6-year-old half-sister in 2013 was found dead Tuesday in his prison cell, the Madison County coroner said Wednesday.

David S. Rodenbarger, 28, of Delphi, was found hanging by a bedsheet in a single cell at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, Coroner Danielle Dunnichay-Noone said. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to hanging.

He pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to two counts of murder and a count of criminal confinement in the deaths. Police said Rodenbarger used a carving knife and a two-pronged fork in February 2013 to stab his 41-year-old mother, Michelle J. “Shelly” Haskins, and her 6-year-old daughter, Jillian E. “Jilly” Haskins, in the family’s home in the 5600 block of East Richey Park Drive in Monticello, news reports said.

At his sentencing, Rodenbarger addressed the court and said he was sorry and words can’t express how he feels.

Rodenbarger had been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia before the murders.

Female veterans recognized during photo shoot

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — “I Am Not Invisible,” started by the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, is a unique campaign to increase the visibility of women veterans across the state.

Up to 100 local women came to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1587 to take part in a photo shoot with a professional photographer.

U.S Air Force veteran Christine Hurley told News 8 she’s from Monticello and wanted to come out to network with other women.

“I came from a small town, kind of a poor family, and it was a way to get out of the small town and it was a way to better myself and see new places meet other folks,” Hurley said.

Many women came from different background and generations but said one thing they have in common is wanting the recognition they deserve. Karen McAndrews, a U.S Coast Guard veteran, said it doesn’t always happen.

“When they see that I’m wearing my Coast Guard hat or my Coast Guard — I’ve got a Coast Guard plate on my car — and they’d say, ‘Oh, did your husband serve?’ Why don’t they automatically assume that I served?” McAndrews said.

The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs said they’re 32,000 women veterans in Indiana. The campaign offered information about health care benefits and how to file an injury claim.

“A lot of women don’t realize, one, that they’re veterans because they didn’t do anything when they served, and by ‘doing something’ I mean by serving in combat, but they are eligible for disability, claims, things like that,” said Sheila Corcoran, state membership director for the VFW.

Many women told News 8 they attended the event to share their experiences and would like others to know women also serve or served this country, too.

“We’re out there, and you may not know the woman next to you is a veteran. I mean we’re in some ways unassuming but yet we’re there,” Hurley said.

The photos taken will be featured on the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs website and will be displayed at the Statehouse.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some Indiana teachers said they were left with painful welts and other injuries after going through a mandatory active-shooter training at an elementary school. 

The state’s largest teacher’s union is calling for changes.

An active-shooter training that happened in Monticello in White County stirred up some discussion at the Statehouse.

The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) said a House bill that, in part, requires schools to do active-shooter training needs to have restrictions added to protect teachers from what happened in Monticello, which is about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

RELATED: State lawmakers discuss school safety bill

The White County Sheriff’s Department hosted ALICE training at the elementary school. ALICE is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

Trainers called teachers, who were in groups of four, into a room where they were told to crouch down.  ISTA said deputies then shot the teachers execution style with some kind of projectile. 

Teachers reported to ISTA that they were left with welts and blood was drawn.

The teachers were told not to tell anyone, and the process was repeated with other groups of teachers.

The executive director for ISTA said that choosing to shoot fake bullets at teachers shows a lack of common sense.  

Our view is that no teacher, no educator, should be put in a small room and shot at as part of a training process for active-shooter training, said ISTA Executive Director Dan Holub

While ISTA said the bill is a positive step in addressing root causes of these school tragedies, they want the bill to place what they call a reasonable limit on these drills. 

The ALICE training does not require any type of fake bullet be used.

The White County Sheriff’s Department has not responded to a request from News 8 for comment.

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) – A Monticello woman is making it her mission to help mothers who have children addicted to opioids.

The Mothers of Hope group has only been meeting for a little over a year, but Teresa Shaffer said the group has already made an impact.

“It’s about mothers being aware on how to know, how to know what to do, when to do it and not to be ashamed to do it,” said Shaffer, founder of the support group.

The state has seen a steady increase in emergency department visits due to opioid overdoses over the past decade. Sometimes, the family and loved ones of those struggling with addiction are left without help.

“It’s like an explosion. You just don’t know how to cope. You don’t know what to do,” she said. “We are in this constant state of fear. The biggest fear being that our child will die.”

Shaffer works as a full-time respiratory therapist in Pulaski County. She has hosted the group once a month since October 2017. She has also started a Facebook page where she regularly posts and creates videos for mothers who want some counseling from their own homes.

“My heart and my passion is for the moms,” she said.

Moms who are walking down the same path that she has.

“I have no letters behind my name. The only experience I have is dealing with my own children,” she said.

Shaffer said all three of her adult sons have struggled with addiction, but that they are doing better. Now, she believes she is in a place to help others.

“We get caught up in the denial and our grief and we start isolating, and these things start happening and we don’t even really know it,” she said. “There is a great need for moms to understand what’s actually going on in their home, what’s going on with their addicted child.”

She said she has the phone numbers of about 15 women who she regularly contacts about the meetings. However, sometimes no women show up. Shaffer said she is not deterred and there are several reasons why some of her meetings are empty.

“It’s a very volatile, questionable group because their children could be doing very well at that time, and they may think that they don’t need to come,” she said. “When your child is doing well the world is right, and when they’re not, a lot of times women won’t seek help.”

She said part of that unwillingness to seek help may be due to stigma barriers that she is trying to break down.

“People really do believe that addiction only impacts the family that is dysfunctional or the family that has single mothers,” she said. “Mothers will look at their child who is struggling with addiction and ask themselves what did I do, or didn’t do, to cause this. And it is not their fault.”

Shaffer said that White County has a drug task force that is working diligently to bring more resources to the county to fight their rising overdose numbers. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the county’s non-fatal overdose rates are higher than the state average.

She said her group is open to anyone who can make the drive to her home for the meetings. She even said that she has talked on the phone with some women from other states. She encouraged anyone who may be struggling to reach out.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up and get help for your child,” she said.

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WISH) — A roller coaster at Indiana Beach was shut down on Sunday after a dead tree limb fell onto the track, colliding with the oncoming passenger car. 

No one was injured in the incident, which happened sometime Sunday afternoon on the Hoosier Hurricane ride and was reported by an Indiana Beach employee, according to a spokesperson for the amusement park.

The ride was ended, and maintenance workers arrived to inspect the ride, which did not incur damage on its cars or track, according to Indiana Beach. 

The roller coaster will be closed until a full inspection has been completed, which could be as early as Monday. 

In 2016, a mechanic was hit by a roller coaster car while working on a platform of the Cornball Express at Indiana Beach and airlifted to Indianapolis with several injuries. 

In 2015, two roller coasters at the park — the Tig’rr and the Steel Hawg — came to abrupt stops in the same week, leaving passengers stuck aboard. Four people were stuck about 70 feet in the air on the Steel Hawg, some for more than an hour. 

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) — Many people living on the Tippecanoe River, said they side with a recent ruling made by a federal commission.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in favor of endangered mussels over homeowners on Lake Freeman.

The ruling allows NIPSCO to siphon water off Lake Freeman onto the habitat of endangered mussels downstream, which creates a problem for anyone who uses the lake for recreation.

The group Shafer Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation has been fighting ever since the drought in 2012.

Group leaders claim the Federal Endangered Species Act hasn’t been updated since the 70’s calling it “outdated and overreaching.”

In its final decision the FERC said the endangered species act “constrains its discretion and compels its ruling.”

A chairperson for the conservation group John Koppelmann said the goal in fighting the decision, is to reach common ground.

“We’re doing our groundwork and our homework to see what we can do to change FERC’s mind and work something out with fish and wildlife,” said Koppelmann. 

People with riverfront homes said people who live on the lake don’t know what they go through when the water gets too low, and that is why the don’t feel bad about the situation. 

“I don’t know what to feel bad about,” said Tina Mills. 

Mills sees what happens when the water gets too low.

“There is a sandbar down the way here that you can hear them clacking and making noise and people will go out and get them back in the river,” Mills recalls. 

Like many of her neighbors who live on the river, Mills is more worried about the mussels than people who live on Lake Freeman.

“We pay taxes just as much as anybody else and it’s not fair they’re killing species in the river.”

Koppelmann said taking water out of the lake affects more than the mussels, it dramatically impacts the entire community. 

“If they don’t come down to the enjoy the lakes they aren’t spending money in the grocery stores, they aren’t getting ice or gas at the gas stations,” said Koppelmann.