- Associated Press - Saturday, June 14, 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - A woman whose father and son died in a crash on Interstate 69 nearly a year ago says she’s frustrated that no charges have been filed in the case and feels abandoned by prosecutors.

Pam Shelmadine’s father, Blaine Miller, and her son, Jeff Shelmadine, were killed July 11, 2013, when their broken-down semitrailer was sideswiped by another truck near Parkview Regional Medical Center. A third person, Tyrek Murphy of Norman, Oklahoma, died two weeks later from injuries suffered in the crash.

Pam Shelmadine told The Journal Gazette that (https://bit.ly/1s0qDVU ) prosecutors have told her they don’t have enough evidence to file charges against the Michigan man who was driving the other semi, so she’s issuing a plea for any witnesses to come forward.

“It’s not right that he can get away with it,” she said of the Michigan man.

She said no one stopped after the crash, which left her father dead underneath a semi and her son dead against a guardrail. Their deaths shocked the Indiana racing circuit, where both were well known.

Mike McAlexander of the Allen County prosecutor’s office said investigators are still working on the case. But he acknowledged that fatal crashes are some of the most difficult cases the office handles and that it can be hard to make a case for criminal charges if the person who caused the crash isn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“It’s very difficult to file criminal charges,” McAlexander said, noting that many fatal accidents occur when no one is doing anything wrong. Still, in every case, McAlexander said, “We take a good, long look. We understand families’ concerns.”

In Allen County, at least two truck drivers have been prosecuted in fatal crashes in recent years. But they were cited for recklessness, which is described as deliberate, egregious behavior so out of the ordinary that it constitutes a complete disregard for safety.

Both of the prosecuted drivers had slammed into the rear of vehicles that were stopped at traffic lights. In at least one of those cases, the driver never braked before hitting the car.

McAlexander said one challenge that prosecutors face is that Indiana lacks a negligent homicide statute. But even if the state had such a law, he said, it would be a low-level criminal offense and would likely carry a small penalty.

That doesn’t help Pam Shelmadine, who chafes when people say that she lost her husband and son.

“They were taken from us,” Shelmadine said.

She doesn’t plan to stop pursuing justice, even if no one who witnessed the crash comes forward. If that happens, she’ll take her plea to lawmakers.


Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

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