Driver Critically Injured in Ind. By Flying Lumber


A driver was critically injured early Wednesday when he was struck by a flying piece of lumber.

State police Sgt. Tony Slocum said Earl Chupp, 20, of Kokomo, was turning onto U.S. 31 at State Road 218 just before 6:30 a.m., when he was rear ended by a box truck driven by Jacobo Velasco, 32, of Indianapolis.

The impact dislodged a 16-foot-long, 2x4 piece of wood in the bed of Chupp's pickup truck, hurling it through the windshield of the box truck, police said.

The lumber struck Velasco in the neck and then continued through the back window of the truck, piercing the box compartment and damaging some of the produce inside, police said.

The box truck crashed into a nearby ditch, while Chupp's pickup truck came to rest in the median.

Velasco had to be extricated from his vehicle, and was flown to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne with massive trauma to his neck. He underwent surgery and was listed in good condition Wednesday afternoon.

Chupp and his passenger were not injured.

Traffic on northbound U.S. 31 was restricted for about four hours after the crash.

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