Man Dies After Arguing Couple Crashes into Charter Bus in Indiana

Sunday, Oct 20, 2013  |  Updated 12:44 PM CDT
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Indiana State Police

The accident took place around 8:40 p.m. Saturday when a 1996 Toyota swerved while traveling eastbound on Interstate 80-94 near Indianapolis Boulevard and was struck by an oncoming charter bus.

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A man was killed Saturday night in Hammond, Ind. after a car he was riding in crashed into a bus carrying coaches, football players and cheerleaders from the University of Saint Francis out of Fort Wayne, police said.

Officials said the accident took place around 8:40 p.m. Saturday when a 1996 Toyota, driven by 21-year-old Shawnna Popenhagen, swerved while traveling eastbound on Interstate 80-94 near Indianapolis Boulevard and was struck by an oncoming charter bus.

Preliminary investigations indicate Popenhagen and her boyfriend Joshua Walberg, 21, were arguing when Walberg grabbed the steering wheel. Popenhagen over corrected the Toyota to the left, which spun the car around into the right center lane until it was almost perpendicular to oncoming traffic.

The charter bus was unable to avoid the car and hit the driver’s front head on, according to a release from Indiana State Police.

Popenhagen was taken to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn with “incapacitating injuries” and Walberg, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene by a deputy with the Lake County Coroner, the release said.

No one on the bus was injured.

The bus held a total of 39 passengers, including coaches, football players and cheerleaders from the University of Saint Francis out of Fort Wayne.

Another charter bus arrived and took the passengers back to Fort Wayne.

The right three lanes and the exit lanes of the interstate were closed after the crash.

“Seat belts are one of the most effective safety devices for preventing death and injury,” Trooper Brian McCall said after the crash. “There is a reason for wearing them. They save lives.”
 

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