'Joking' steering wheel push led to fatal crash

By The Associated Press

VALPARAISO — A car crash that killed a northwest Indiana teenager occurred after the front seat passenger jokingly pushed on the steering wheel just before the car plowed into a utility pole, police said.

The 20-year-old woman passenger “pushed the steering wheel to the left in a joking manner” last Friday, causing the 20-year-old driver to lose control of his car, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department said.

The vehicle went left of northbound U.S. 231's center line and when the driver tried to regain control the car left the road's right side, struck a utility pole and rolled into a ditch, police said.

Back seat passenger Ethan Schoonveld, 17, died en route to a hospital, police said.

The Lake County coroner’s office said the DeMotte teen died from blunt force trauma, and his injuries indicate he was not wearing a seat belt, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

No charges have been filed in the crash, which also resulted in the driver and front seat passenger seeking medical care.

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