- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

WASHINGTON, Ind. (AP) - A man who was aboard an overloaded van that overturned on a southwestern Indiana highway, killing two people, says he and other passengers had screamed at the driver to slow down.

Ernst Auguste said the driver told the pleading passengers to be quiet as the 16-passenger van loaded with 24 people barreled down Interstate 69 just before the Sept. 24 crash.

“We were screaming and yelling at the driver, but he did not listen and continued on going. He told us to be quiet and we all started praying, ‘God, God, God!’” the 59-year-old Haitian immigrant told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1Lk5WfX ) through a translator.

Auguste said the van was changing lanes along the highway in Gibson County when it blew a tire and rolled over three to four times. Two women, 29-year-old Christela Georges and Gena Moise, 60, died.

Many of the van’s passengers were Haitian refugees who live in the Washington, Indiana, area some 30 miles northeast of the crash site. The van was headed to a factory in Evansville, about 20 miles to the southwest.

Gibson County Prosecutor Robert Krieg said no decision has been made on whether the driver will be charged. His office has asked that toxicology test results on the driver be expedited.

A 10-page crash report released by the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office about a week after the crash concluded that investigators believed the driver’s actions contributed to the crash. That report mentions both unsafe speed and an unsafe lane movement as factors in the crash.

Officials said worn tires on the van and the weight of the overloaded vehicle also played roles in the crash.

Auguste, who has been in the Washington area for about a year and a half, said that after the crash he popped his injured collarbone back into place himself. He said he wants to return to work as soon as possible.

“I’m a working man,” he said.


Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

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