traffic stop 1126

CHECKING ID: Howard County Deputy Capt. Herold Vincent runs radar along Ind. 22 on the west side of the county on Wednesday.

“Motorist sought in fatal hit-and-run.”

“Nine injured in 3-vehicle accident on U.S. 31.”

“Miami County teen killed in crash.”

Those headlines in recent months show a deadly trend along U.S. 31 running through Tipton, Howard and Miami counties that has area police working extra patrols.

“Troopers are working their entire shift concentrating on the major roads watching for speeding, unsafe lane movements and people not wearing seat belts,” Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Peru Post said.

What’s worse is most of the deaths could have been prevented if motorists were buckled up, said Slocum.

“In most of the crashes people are dying because they not wearing seat belts,” Slocum said.

Last year, troopers reported 32 crashes with 33 deaths in the Peru District, which covers Cass, Fulton, Miami, Wabash, Tipton and Howard counties, Slocum said.

That number climbed to 35 deaths in 33 crashes so far this year.

In the past two months area police have been called to about 10 fatal crashes in and around Howard County, several along U.S. 31.

“We’ve seen a rash of them lately,” the trooper said.

Howard County Sheriff Marty Talbert also has had his hands full working or assisting in seven deadly wrecks so far this year.

“One involved a pedestrian, two were due to failure to yield and two were a result of intoxicated drivers,” he said of some of the causes.

“Four of the seven also occurred in the darkness,” he said. “Darkness adds an element to danger whenever your driving.”

Kokomo police reported five deaths in four crashes, with one involving alcohol.

Speed and alcohol were major factors in several of the crashes, including the Nov. 7 fatal crash that killed an 18-year-old Brownsburg teen, the sheriff said.

Amy C. Posey died after fracturing her skull in a car crash at Morgan Street and 250 East. She crashed her 1999 Jeep Wrangler into a tree shortly after leading city police on a chase into the county.

Police said she stole about $30 in gas from the Circle K convenience store/gas station at Markland Avenue and U.S. 31 and fled. Posey had a blood-alcohol content of .18 and tested positive for marijuana, police reported.

As in most of the other traffic deaths, Posey was not wearing a seat belt.

Talbert said it’s frustrating to see these deaths after consistently warning people to buckle up.

“The absolute greatest invention in traffic safety is the seat belt,” Talbert said. “It saves lives and prevents serious injuries. It’s such simple thing to do — just buckle your belt whether you’re in a car or a truck.”

Deputies will continue to step up patrols, especially during the holiday season and hope to prevent any further traffic deaths, he added.

“We have stepped up patrols and used our reserves,” Talbert said Friday. “Plus, state police have extra patrols on all of the state highways. Also, we put in for continued grants for DUI enforcement for the rest of this year and next year.”

Despite the deaths, Talbert said fatalities have decreased over the years.

“We have seen an increase in seat belt compliance which has reduced fatalities,” he said. “If you go back, they were years we had 20 or 30 deaths a year.

“Obviously we would like to have none.”

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