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Two crashes on same day, one fatal, reveal dangerous Osceola intersection

OSCEOLA, Ind. - New details on the fatal crash into a business off Ash and Vistula Roads in Osceola.

We’re still waiting to learn the driver’s identity, but neighbors tell ABC57 that intersection is no stranger to crashes. In fact, one of our reporters actually witnessed another crash at the same intersection while covering this story on Wednesday.

“It’s knocked the side, messed up the steps. He’s always fixing that place,” Sharon Bradberry, one neighbor said.

Matt Wheeler and his father have owned Midway Bait and Tackle Shop for over 20 years and they are no stranger to cars crashing into their business.

“You got a lot of people speeding on the bridge coming, 5 o’clock traffic. It’s kind of hard to make a left turn,” Wheeler said. “The major accidents typically come from Elkhart. Drunk driving is the main reason.”

So when Wheeler got the call around 3 a.m. that another car hit his business, he wasn’t too surprised.

“I wish I could say I was but since owning this building it has been hit 15 times since 1999,” he said.

You can even see on their building the number of times they’ve had to rebuild their business over the years because of these accidents.

However, this is the first time he can remember one of the crashes turning fatal.

In a press release, officials say police tried to get the driver out but that the flames were too hot.

“It woke my husband up and he went out on the deck and he could see all the lights and everything there {car crash noise} yeah that – we hear that all the time,” Bradberry said.

Bradberry has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years and has seen how dangerous this intersection can get.

“Usually there’s at least 2 or 3 a year at least. Sometimes more,” she said.

With her own sister-in-law getting into a crash two years ago.

“She was hit at a pretty good speed and flipped her car around, hurt her neck. She won’t even come that way anymore,” she said.

“We’ve always known this might happen and it’s a shame it did happen. I feel terrible for the family and the people involved but we’ll rebuild or we’ll tear it down. We’re just telling people that there needs to be something done,” Wheeler said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next but we’ll rebuild. I mean we always do.”

The intersection is right on the line between Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties.

ABC57 reached out to both sheriff’s departments to see just how many crashes there have been here over the years.

Troy Warner at the St. Joseph Police Department sent us pictures of the crashes.

In 2020, there have been no crashes at this intersection beside the 2 on Wednesday. In 2019, there were 3.

Officials at the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office say that in 2019 there were 9 reported crashes at or around the intersection of Vistula Road and Ash Road that they responded to.

And in 2020, there has been 1.

Some of the neighbors say the reason why there hasn’t been a stoplight put there is because of how crazy busy this road is especially with the bridge over there.

ABC57 did reach out to the St. Joseph County Engineer to see if there has been a traffic study done on that intersection but have yet to hear heard back.

We’ve also reached out to the county coroner who couldn’t say a name or age in the deadly crash, just that the victim is male. There is an autopsy scheduled tomorrow at 9 in Fort Wayne.

As for the other crash, officials say those involved had minor injuries.

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