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[ISP] Intoxicated Driver Celebrates Birthday, Crashes in to Semi
Start Date: 10/27/2012Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 10/27/2012End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description

Lake County-A woman who was out celebrating her birthday did not end in the way she would have liked, early this Saturday morning, when she ran into the rear of a semi, had to be extricated, was taken to the hospital with injuries and traffic charges are now against her.

Preliminary investigation revealed that, at approximately 2:40 a.m., Trooper Brian Rubesha responded to a crash west bound on I-80 at the 11.5 mile marker (this is approximately 1 ½ miles west of  Central Avenue).  A 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, driven by Natasha M. Garza, 34 of Hammond, was going west in the right middle lane (four lanes of traffic) when the Cobalt hit the rear of a semi in front of it.

Juan G. Palafox, 53 of Romeoville, Illinois, driving a 2010 Mack semi pulling a box trailer, was going west in the right middle lane when it was hit in the rear by the Cobalt.  Palafox didn’t know his semi had been hit at first and drove over a mile with the Cobalt wedged partially underneath the box trailer before stopping on the outer shoulder.

Garza had to be extricated by the Gary Fire Department.  She was transported to NorthLake Methodist Hospital with arm and ankle injuries that are considered non-life threatening.  Garza’s birthday was Friday, October 26th and her blood alcohol level tested over 2 ½ times (.21% BAC) over the legal limit of .08%.

Garza is charged with Operating While Intoxicated, Driving While Suspended Prior and Following too Closely.  Her Cobalt was a total loss.

Palafox, whose semi was owned by PAGG Trucking out of Chicago, was hauling 42,000 pounds of rice.  There was no load loss.  He was cited for a logbook violation and Load Securement.  He was not injured.

The right lane was blocked until approximately 4:00 a.m. for extrication, and removal of the injured, towing of the vehicle and investigation of the crash.

Assisting:  Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division Sergeant Wanda Clay and Trooper Tim Grayson, Gary Fire and EMS Department and Purkey’s Towing

All criminal defendants are to be presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Contact Information:
Name: Sergeant Ann Wojas
Phone: (219) 690-0029
Email: awojas@isp.in.gov
crash on WB I-80
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Alerts and Notification
  • IN.gov Category:
  • Law & Justice
  • Public Safety
  • Agency Name
    Police, Indiana State

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