Three from Painesville killed in wrong-way crash in Indiana

Three people from Painesville were killed in a wrong-way crash in Indiana involving four vehicles on Sunday.

Indiana state troopers said they responded to a call about an erratic driver in a dark gray or black Toyota around 7:26 p.m. on the Indiana Toll Road. A short time later, the same car turned around and began driving westbound in the eastbound lanes, troopers said.

Six minutes later, dispatch in the area of South Bend received reports of a crash.

A preliminary investigation revealed the Toyota collided with other vehicles, including a black 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe with five people from Painesville inside, according to Indiana state troopers. They said a third car, a silver 2012 Chevrolet Malibu, swerved to avoid the crash, lost control, went through the center median and hit crash barrels. The driver of the Malibu was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Inside the Tahoe, which was hit head-on, were Octavius Rice, 46, Denita Rice, 42, Bryson Rice, 1, Makayla Lanier, 12, and Nila Watkins, 10, all from Painesville. The Tahoe landed on its right side. Motorists stopped to help and rolled the vehicle back onto its wheels, authorities said. There was also a fire in the engine of the car, according to troopers.

Officials said Denita and Bryson Rice were pronounced dead at the scene, and Makayla Lanier was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind., where she later died from her injuries. Nila Watkins was also taken to Memorial Hospital and then flown to Riley's Children's Hospital with serious injuries, troopers said. Authorities said Ocatvius Rice was taken to Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

The driver who caused the accident had to be extricated from the car and was taken to Memorial Hospital with serious life-threatening injuries, according to troopers. They said he is from South Bend.

The driver of the fourth car involved did not suffer any injuries, officials said.

Authorities believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

The investigation is ongoing.

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