GRANGER – Police have released the names of those involved in a deadly crash Sunday morning on State Road 23 in Granger. The young man who died is 18-year-old James Reeder – a student from Lawrence, Michigan who was due to graduate Sunday afternoon.
Around 4:30 a.m. Reeder's pickup truck and a semi collided head-on just south of the Indiana-Michigan state line in Harris Township, spilling fuel on the highway.
The semi -- driven by 43-year-old Troy S. Massey of Coloma, Michigan -- burst into flames upon impact. Reeder died at the scene.
Massey was taken to South Bend's Memorial Hospital with back pain and minor facial injuries.
The tanker was carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel and was just filled at the Granger fuel depot before the crash. However, the tanker portion of the semi did not catch fire -- meaning an even larger disaster was averted thanks to the efforts of firefighters.
Lieutenant Matt Blank of the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department says information gathered at the scene shows the southbound pickup crossed the center line into the path of the northbound semi.
Massey ran from his burning cab. It took emergency crews an hour to douse the flames. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was called to the scene because of the fuel spill.
WSBT spoke with the Lawrence superintendent, John Overly, who told us that an empty chair was left for Reeder at graduation at 2 p.m. Sunday. His graduation cap and National Honor Society cloak were draped over that chair, and a moment of silence was observed in his honor during the commencement ceremony.
Police say they found a case of beer in Reeder's car.
Cass County police say the teen was arrested for drinking and driving in Edwardsburg about a week ago but he was still legally allowed to drive because he had not gone to court.
He was also arrested for minor possession back in March.
However, toxicology results on both the driver of the semi and Reeder are pending.