Detectives investigating after fatal crash on US 421

LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. --- On Friday, January 21st, deputies responded to a personal injury crash on US 421. The initial crash scene investigation revealed two vehicles were involved, a van and a commercial motor vehicle, police said.

Police said a tree service company truck was backing a wood chipper out of a driveway and onto US 421 as a representative stood in the middle of US 421 flagging for traffic control. The flagger had traffic stopped going northbound and southbound, according to police.

A silver 2004 Chrysler van, driven by La Porte resident Christopher S. Lawson, 30, was traveling southbound, police said. The driver of the van was slowing down or came to a stop at direction of the flagger, according to police.

Demond A. Gaston-Hargett, 30, of Escore, Michigan, was driving a red 2014 Volvo semi-tractor, traveling southbound, police said. Gaston-Hargett told deputies he noticed traffic coming to a stop, but said he realized too late and crashed into the back of the van driven by Lawson.

Five people were inside the van, including two adults and three juveniles, according to police. Police said all five people injured, trapped inside and had to be extracted from the van.

Deputies learned one of the juveniles, a 10-year-old boy, who had been seated in the center of the rear seat, had died.

The highway was closed for approximately three hours as deputies investigated.

Toxicology results are pending and the investigation is ongoing.

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