ADAMS COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Two crosses now sit alongside U.S. 27 and State Road 124 just outside Monroe in Adams County. David “Tampa” Sweat, 34, and Tonia Valenzuela, 21, were killed in a crash there Saturday morning.
“It’s just a tragedy,” James Sweat, David’s father, said. “He’s too young for this to happen.”
David was talking to his brother on the phone minutes before the crash happened.
“I asked if he needed us to come pick him up and he said, ‘No, we’re almost there’ and he never made it,” Jimbo Thatcher said. “He was a good dude and had a good heart. If you needed something and he could do it, he’d help you out.”
James Sweat remembers his son as a hard worker and a great father. David leaves behind his daughter Jillian, 10.
“We’d go to the park and stay at home and rent movies and play,” Jillian said. “We’d do cartwheels, or he’d attempt to. We’d go to Lazer X, Crazy Pinz and Sky Zone.”
Authorities said a woman driving a minivan ran a red light and hit the car David and Tonia were in. Joshua Everett, 27 and Jonia King, 29, were also in the car and were both injured. While devastated by the loss, the family doesn’t blame the intersection.
“The lady ran through the stop light. Had she been paying attention, it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know if they need to change the intersection or not,” James Sweat said.
The family is asking for help paying for David’s funeral. Click here for the gofundme page.
According to the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, around 10,550 vehicles go through that intersection every day. Between 2013 and 2008, there were ten crashes there. None were fatal and only one had minor injuries.
Crashes at U.S. 27 and SR 124:
2014: No data available yet
2013: 1 crash
2012: 3 crashes
2011: 4 crashes
2010: no crashes
2009: 1 crash
2008: 1 crash
While there might not be a lot of crashes considering how busy the intersection is, a close call three months ago still has Jayne Goulet rattled.
“After it happened to me I was praying it wouldn’t happen to anyone else and people would do something about it,” she said.
In April, Jayne was stopped on State Road 124 heading east behind another car. Her light turned green and she started to cross U.S. 27. The car in front of her went through and she remembered hearing a strange noise.
“God just took my left foot and put it on my brake and I just stopped in the middle of the intersection and I watched a semi truck loaded with logs blare right in front of my face,” she said. “The semi went between a car that already crossed the intersection and myself, so you if you can picture that, that’s really scary. That’s how late he was going through the red light.”
Goulet’s sister called police and reported the semi. He was pulled over near Geneva, but denied the ticket. He was just found guilty in a trial, but is appealing, Goulet said.
The speed limit on U.S. 27 leading up to the light at State Road 124 is 60 miles per hour. Goulet would like the state to change that.
“Some kind of warning to reduce your speed as you approach this traffic light. If you’re still going 60 miles per hour and the light turns yellow, you can’t get stopped. People try to get through it, but this intersection is too big and too wide,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation said the agency is investigating the intersection, which is standard protocol after a fatal crash. That investigation includes looking at signs, signals, traffic flow, speeds of traffic and visibility. It’s not clear how long the investigation will take or if there will be any changes made.