• August 17, 2022

Joshua Martens Killed in Crash with Semi-Truck on US-20 in Elkhart County, IN

Elkhart County, IN — August 16, 2022, 48-year-old Joshua Martens died in a head-on collision with a semi-truck on U.S. Highway 20 in Elkhart County.

Reports say the incident happened around 5:00 p.m. on US-20 near County Road 31, close to Middlebury. Preliminary investigation suggests Martens was driving on the road when he crossed left of center for unknown reasons and collided head-on with an oncoming semi-truck.

Martens, allegedly not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was unhurt.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Joshua Martens Accident in Elkhart County

Reports suggest the victim crossed left of center, but I often remind people that preliminary findings are usually just officers' best guesses after a once-over at the scene. Many times their first impressions are right, but I've also seen cases where they missed the mark entirely.

For instance, after a similar crash recently police said the victim crossed the center line and caused the fatal wreck with a big rig. We looked again at his family's request and learned the truck actually crossed over first when the driver fell asleep. He swerved back when the truck hit the rumble strips, but that put him back on a collision course with the victim's car. Police just saw the car in the truck's lane when they arrived and figured he was to blame, and the truck driver didn't set the record straight.

Joshua Martens Killed in Crash with Semi-Truck on US-20 in Elkhart County, IN

I'm not saying that happened in Elkhart County, but even if police are sure the victim crossed over first there's still the question of why. Folks may quickly blame speeding or texting, but common factors aren't the only possibilities. Did he have a medical emergency? Did his car blow a tire or malfunction somehow? Was the road wet or in poor condition in that area? Did another vehicle force the victim to go off-course? Even less-common possibilities like those can't be overlooked.

The point here is that things are rarely as clear as a few sentences in the news makes them seem. That's why I often suggest that independent experts take a second look and make sure nothing crucial was missed. At the very least, the victim's family deserves to know every effort was made to learn the whole story. Any other steps beyond that would depend on what the story turns out to be.

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