A prisoner being transported by a Jasper County correctional officer was
seriously injured on Monday after the semi-marked squad car in which he was
riding hit another vehicle head on, the Indiana State Police said.
According to police, at 1:17 p.m. Joe Kopanda—a nine-year veteran of the
Jasper County Correctional Division—was eastbound on Ind. 14 when he
encountered some slow moving grain trucks. Kopanda entered the westbound
lane, to see if he “could pass safely,” but in the rain and poor visibility
he failed to see a 2004 GMC Canyon westbound on Ind. 14 and driven by Dennis
W. Flippo Jr., 53, of Rensselaer, police said.
The squad car and the Canyon collided head on.
Kopanda’s prisoner, Tracy VanWienen, 35, of Lafayette, was seated in the
back seat prisoner compartment and was not wearing a seat belt, police said.
He sustained a serious head injury, was transported to Jasper County
Hospital, then later airlifted to Carle Hospital in Champaign, Ill., police
Flippo complained of pain and was transported to Jasper County Hospital.
Kopanda had to be extricated and was transported to Jasper County Hospital
with lower leg and rib injuries, then later transported to Indiana
University Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette.