The Herald Bulletin

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November 17, 2009

Woman struck by semi in apparent suicide attempt

ANDERSON — A local woman was struck by a tractor-trailer in a southbound lane of Interstate 69 in an apparent suicide attempt Tuesday, according to Anderson police.

Anderson Police Patrolman Scott Calhoun said the woman, 38-year-old Melinda K. Pierce of Anderson, was struck by a tractor-trailer near the 21 mile-marker in the right lane of southbound I-69 just before noon Tuesday.

Pierce’s 39th birthday is Wednesday.

“Witnesses made statements to me that when they were comforting her, they put blankets on her and things, she had made statements that she’d intentionally ran in front of the truck to try and kill herself,” Calhoun said Tuesday.

The driver of the Heartland Express tractor-trailer from Iowa that struck Pierce has been identified as James D. Padgett, 46, of Sullivan, Illinois. He was not available for comment Tuesday.

Calhoun said Padgett had slowed the truck to about 55 miles per hour just before the accident as he tried to merge into the left lane.

Pierce was taken to Saint John’s Health Center in Anderson immediately following the accident and was later transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with non-life threatening injuries, Calhoun said.

She suffered a broken pelvis, left leg and left forearm along with a cut to the forehead, he said.

When police arrived, they found Pierce’s vehicle parked along the shoulder. The engine of her maroon Dodge Grand Caravan minivan was running and the hood was propped open.

A child safety seat was secured in the front passenger’s seat of the minivan, but no one else was in the van at the time of the incident, Calhoun said.

He said Pierce’s family was notified but gave no indication why Pierce may have attempted suicide.

Calhoun said he’s responded to a few suicide attempts along Interstate 69. “It’s probably the third or fourth one we’ve had out there over the years,” he said.

Police did not ticket the driver of the tractor-trailer, and said Padgett was extremely upset at the scene.

The near fatal incident caused a traffic jam that stretched for several miles.

The Herald Bulletin was unable to reach Pierce or her family for comment Tuesday.

Contact Brandi Watters 640-4847,

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