Two men were fatally struck by a passing vehicle early Saturday as they crawled out of their rolled-over SUV after a crash on Interstate 80/94 in northwest Indiana.
The initial rollover crash happened about 4:10 a.m. when a 2002 Ford Explorer sideswiped a semi-truck while traveling east on I-80/94 near Grant Street in Gary, according to a statement from Indiana State Police Sergeant Ann Wojas.
The Explorer, occupied by three people, rolled over onto its roof, police said. The driver, 31-year-old Nathaniel McIntee of Merrillville, and the passenger, 34-year-old Jason Howard of Detroit, crawled out of the SUV and tried to help the backseat passenger, McIntee’s 29-year-old brother.
As they crawled out, a passing black four-door Volkswagen, possibly a Passat, hit the Explorer then went onto the shoulder and hit a 2004 Honda Pilot whose driver had stopped to help the three men involved in the initial crash, police said. The driver of the Volkswagen got out of his vehicle then immediately got back in and drove away.
Another driver, a 34-year-old man in a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe, said he saw a car in front of him hit the brakes and swerve to the right, and he did the same, police said. In that sequence, both McIntee and Howard were struck while outside of their SUV.
It was unclear if the vehicle in front of the Santa Fe was the Volkswagen, and it wasn’t known which vehicle hit McIntee and Howard, who were both pronounced dead at the scene at 5:24 a.m., according to the Lake County Coroner’s Office.
The driver of the Santa Fe was taken to North Lake Methodist Hospital in Gary with injuries that weren’t believed to be life-threatening, police said. The third passenger in the Explorer, McIntee’s brother, was also taken to North Lake Methodist for treatment. He was expected to survive.
Police were looking for information about the driver of the Volkswagen, which had heavy damage to its front end. Anyone with information was asked to call Detective Gary Runde at (219) 696-6242.