Two die after Saturday crash in WITZ Bottoms

By BILL POWELL
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — A crash Saturday morning on U.S. 231 in the WITZ Bottoms killed two drivers and injured two passengers.

Police said one of the drivers is suspected to have been huffing, or inhaling toxic vapors.
A total of five people lost their lives last week in a trio of fatal roadway accidents in Dubois County.
Killed from injuries sustained in the 8:30 a.m. Saturday accident were Marcos A. Ayala, 18, of Huntingburg and Earl B. Cox, 49, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., according to the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department.

Police said Ayala was southbound on U.S. 231 in a 2002 Mitsubishi Gallant when the crash occurred 500 feet north of WITZ Road.

Deputies said the Ayala Mitsubishi went left of center and crashed head-on into a northbound 2011 Scion XB driven by Cox. Debris from the crash then struck the passenger side of a southbound 2000 Toyota Camry driven by 76-year-old Lyndel G. Wasson of Jasper.

Ayala was extricated from the Mitsubishi and transported by ambulance to Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead due to head trauma, according to the sheriff’s department.

First responders also extricated Cox, who was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hospital and then transferred to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Evansville. Police said Cox, who had a lacerated liver, was pronounced dead at the Vanderburgh County hospital.

Wasson and his passenger, wife Judith A. Wasson, 73, were uninjured, police said.

Deputies said the accident is still under investigation but it appears that huffing, specifically inhaling from a can of compressed air, was a possible contributing factor.

The crash totaled the Mitsubishi and the Scion and caused $2,000 in damage to the Wasson Toyota. The highway was closed for more than an hour after the accident. Police declined to release the numeric addresses of the vehicles’ occupants.

The Huntingburg Police Department, Jasper Police Department, Jasper Volunteer Fire Department, Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, the coroner’s offices in Dubois and Vanderburgh counties and wreckers from Uebelhor & Sons and Ruxer Ford assisted.

Last week began with the Sunday, Dec. 15, death of 21-year-old Mitch Haas of Ferdinand, who lost control of the pickup truck he was driving near the Schnellville Conservation Club. The truck went off the roadway and became inverted in a creek.

Then, Tuesday night, 28-year-old Eric M. Bureau of Dale and 20-year-old Jessica L. Morgan of Birdseye were killed in a single-vehicle accident just east of the Bretzville Junction.

A preliminary investigation by the sheriff’s department indicated a 2006 Mercury Mountaineer driven by 20-year-old Carlishia N. Dooley of Ferdinand was eastbound on State Road 64 at a high rate of speed at the time of the 6:10 p.m. accident.

Dooley lost control of the vehicle east of State Road 162 and the SUV hit a guardrail on the south side of the road. The Mountaineer then went down an embankment, struck and broke a large cedar tree and possibly overturned before stopping on its wheels. Both Bureau and Morgan eventually were pronounced dead at the scene by the Dubois County Coroner’s Office.

The latest double fatality brought the county’s roadway fatality toll for 2013 to nine people

Contact Bill Powell at bpowell@dcherald.com.




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