Arizona woman dies after car rear-ends fire truck

Sunday, December 29, 2019 ~ Updated 10:52 AM
Courtesy photo

CLOVERDALE — An Arizona woman was fatally injured Sunday morning when the car her husband was driving rear-ended a fire truck on Interstate 70.

Shortly after 8 a.m., the Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene of an earlier single-vehicle crash in the westbound lanes at the 38-mile marker. Upon arrival to the scene, fire department personnel positioned all emergency vehicles in the passing lane on the eastbound side of I-70, with all emergency lights activated.

In the first crash, a vehicle hydroplaned in the rain, sliding into the median where it hit the cable barriers.

Courtesy photo

Cloverdale Fire Chief Kerry Shepherd said he made the call to have the fire trucks park on the eastbound side due to better visibility.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic over there,” Shepherd said. “We came around and parked on the eastbound side because it was just past a hill on the westbound side. There was plenty of room to see in the eastbound side.”

No police were yet on the scene, either to investigate or to direct traffic. However, traffic was moving over to the right shoulder until a 2019 Tesla approached.

The driver, Derrick N. Monet, 25, of Prescott Valley, Ariz., apparently failed to observe the emergency vehicle, running into the back of the parked fire truck.

Monet and his wife, Jenna N. Monet, 23, also of Prescott Valley, received serious injuries from the impact, with firefighters finding them unconscious and entrapped.

“The guy never even hit his brakes,” Shepherd said. “All the traffic had moved over and slowed way down. I’m not sure what happened, why he didn’t move over.”

However, once the impact occurred, the firefighters got back to work.

“As soon as they hit, we grabbed the tools off the other rescue truck.”

With an ambulance still on the scene, paramedics were also present to render aid when needed.

After an extrication that Shepherd estimated took 35-40 minutes, both occupants were transported to the hospital for immediate medical care.

Jenna Monet later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

No firefighters were in the truck at the time and none were injured. Shepherd said that while the truck sustained heavy rear-end damage, responders may be fortunate the car struck the fire truck.

“If it hadn’t hit the truck and had come into the median, we wouldn’t have had time to react. That’s why we park them like that — the truck did its job,” Shepherd said. “I don’t know what would’ve happen.

“All of our guys were lucky. It hit pretty hard.”

Senior Trooper Adam Edwards of the Putnamville State Police Post is the lead investigator, being assisted by Senior Trooper Tim Rader, who will be conducting the reconstruction of the accident.

It’s unclear at this time how weather conditions might have affected road conditions. Heavy rain in the area was cited as a cause of the first crash.

State Police also did not indicate if the Tesla was in self-driving mode, a standard feature on all Teslas.

Police said drugs and alcohol were not a contributing factor of the crash.

Other emergency personnel on the scene included additional troopers from the Putnamville State Police Post, Putnam County Operation Life, STAR Ambulance, Indiana Department of Transportation and Curtis Wrecker Service. The Greencastle Fire Department also covered the Cloverdale station during the incident.

For a time following the crash Sunday morning, eastbound I-70 was closed in the area, with traffic diverted at Putnamville Exit 37 onto State Road 243 to U.S. 40.

The road was reopened shortly before 10 a.m.

Glad to have all of his firefighters make their way back from the call, Shepherd was nonetheless somber about the entire incident.

“It’s a bad situation but we did everything we could do,” Shepherd said. “We’ve had a lot of close calls out there. Today was a bad deal for everybody.”

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  • I think that should be 243.

    -- Posted by Roses2019 on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 9:47 AM
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    Makes me wonder if they had the autopilot turned on.

    -- Posted by DouglasQuaid on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 10:56 AM
  • DouglasQuaid, exactly what I was wondering. I just don't trust those things.

    -- Posted by NCgramma on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 11:36 AM
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    NCgramma - Neither do I and it really worries me how people are ignorantly embracing these kinds of things without serious considerations... It's one thing to pursue and use *optional* safety features but it's another for these added features to incrementally reduce the levels of control people have over their own cars while simultaneously creating a false sense of trust in how the car purports to ensure safety, which translates into drivers being more lax and inattentive at the wheel. But what angers me about it all is how those in favor of these things resort to making claims about how they're better drivers than humans without having any regard for how many accidents human driving prevents. It will be interesting to see where all this lands.

    -- Posted by DouglasQuaid on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 12:18 PM
  • So sad to see such a devastating accident, especially during the holidays. Prayers for the driver and family members and also for the first-responders as these events leave them with emotional scars. A reminder to all …be careful out there.

    It would be interesting to know if the car was in Tesla Autopilot mode. It would seem that unusual situations with flashing lights might present a real challenge for Tesla’s autonomous driving. Tesla vehicles don’t use LiDAR like the more advanced autonomous vehicles being tested by Google and others. Looking at the Radar image for 8 AM, it appears there was very light rain, so probably not heavy enough precipitation to disable use of the Autopilot mode.

    -- Posted by JohnLobban on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 3:05 PM
  • My guess is it was in the self drive mode and they were napping...

    -- Posted by infiremanemt on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 9:56 PM
  • Self driving cars have thus far proven to be many times safer than even the best human drivers. People will pick on every single accident and assume “the computer crashed it” without knowing anything about the situation, and completely ignore the 10,000 accidents caused by human error the same day.

    -- Posted by techphcy on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 10:34 PM
  • “Upon arrival to the scene, fire department personnel positioned all emergency vehicles in the passing lane of I-70, with all emergency lights activated.”

    Whether computer driven or not, something wasn’t right when this happens. The driver, the “computer” or both missed a big time signal, called emergency lights.

    -- Posted by Koios on Sun, Dec 29, 2019, at 11:57 PM
  • God be with all involved. I am sure this accident will be picked apart from every safety issue that can be determine how to prevent this from happening again. One thing for sure a young life God claim to come home and maybe a second. Peace be with the love ones that one less will be in their mist.

    -- Posted by Franklinheart on Mon, Dec 30, 2019, at 6:17 PM
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