Chesterton Tribune


Prisoner injured in crash while being transported by Jasper County officer

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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 said.

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.


Posted 10/23/2012