A high-speed chase that exceeded 120 miles per hour in Putnam County ended with the death of a Brazil teenager Saturday morning on the Putnam-Clay County Line about two miles south of U.S. 40.
Brandee N. Siples, 17, a student at Northview High School, was pronounced dead at the scene of the one-car crash.
She was the passenger in a 1992 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Cody D. Wright, 18, Brazil. He was injured and airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital. Officials at Wishard Memorial Hospital reported that Wright was released to return home at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Reelsville Fire Chief John McPherson said the crash scene was the worst wreckage he has seen in his 10 years with the department.
"I just couldn't believe it," McPherson told the Banner Graphic. "The fact that he survived it is just amazing."
The violence of the impact tore the passenger's seatbelt away from the car, he said, and she was found outside the car with massive head trauma and other injuries.
It took about 10 minutes to extricate Wright from the wreckage, McPherson said. The driver sustained head and internal injuries, but was conscious and alert at the scene. He was taken by TransCare Ambulance to a cornfield about a quarter-mile north of the accident scene to be transported by AirEvac to the Indianapolis hospital.
Indiana State Police are investigating the incident. The chase began after Master Trooper William Partridge, who was driving eastbound in a fully marked ISP vehicle, observed the Camaro around 10:40 a.m. Saturday driving westbound at a high rate of speed in the town limits of Putnamville. The speed limit at that location is 45 mph, and Wright's car was clocked at 117 mph.
Partridge notified westbound Master Trooper David Furnas of the vehicle and its location. Furnas reported that he was traveling in the right lane and had to swerve to the right to avoid being rear-ended by the speeding Camaro, which passed his fully marked ISP car. Furnas activated his lights and siren and attempted to stop the Camaro, but the vehicle continued and sped up to 129 mph.
The car continued west and turned south at CR 900 West, traveling at about 85-90 mph on the rolling, two-lane blacktop road.
About two miles south of U.S. 40, the vehicle topped a small hill and the driver lost control of the car, which went off the east side of the road. The car became airborne, struck several trees, and landed on its wheels in a 20-foot ravine.
ISP crash reconstructionists found a tree that had been struck by the airborne car about 20 feet above the ravine, and a 17-inch circumference tree that was broken in half about 15-feet above the ravine.
Both Wright and Siples were wearing seatbelts, but state police report that due to the extreme speed and severity of the crash, seatbelts could not prevent the blunt force injuries to the passenger. She was pronounced dead at the scene by Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller.
The Indiana State Police will foreword its investigation, once it is complete, to the Putnam County Prosecutor for a decision on possible criminal and traffic charges.
Investigating officers are Det. Brian Smith and Sgt. Cory Robinson of the Indiana State Police at Putnamville, with assistance from the Putnam and Clay County Sheriff's Depts., Reelsville and Van Buren fire departments, Curtis Wrecker Service and Air Evac medical helicopter.