BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — A Pittsboro man has been charged with reckless homicide and drunk driving, more than one year after a Lebanon man in a parked truck was killed in a head-on crash in rural Boone County.
On July 24, 2021, police responded to a crash at County Road 25 West and County Road 400 South at around 10:30 p.m.
According to an affidavit for probable cause, when the first Boone County deputy arrived, he found a man lying on the ground with a man kneeling next to him. The man on the ground was identified as 35-year-old Wes McClaine, and he had been killed in the crash.
A woman identified as Whitney Sherill of Thorntown told police she and McClaine were sitting in the bed of a parked Chevy Silverado on the side of the road when they were hit head-on. She was also injured and said she could not see out of her left eye and had a laceration behind her knee.
Police spoke to the other driver, Gavin Lengacher of Pittsboro, who was then 18. He said he was going north on County Road 25 West when he came up to a truck facing south in the northbound lane and tried to brake but hit it head-on.
Court documents show Lengacher said he only saw the truck about “ten seconds” before hitting it. The impact of the crash pushed the Silverado about 76 feet.
Sherill told police she and McClaine had been out driving around when he pulled over on the side of the road. She told investigators the headlights were on, and the tires “were barely” on the roadway.
According to Sherill, she and McClaine were sitting on the truck’s tailgate when they were hit. She also said before Lengacher came along, two other vehicles drove up to them head-on and were able to go around the truck.
When he spoke to investigators, Lengacher admitted to having whiskey in his Chevrolet Tahoe but said he never drank it.
Lengacher was taken to the hospital for a evidentiary chemical test. His blood alcohol concentration (BAC) came in at 0.174, according to court documents. In Indiana, a driver is legally drunk when their BAC is 0.08 or more. According to Findlaw.com, the BAC lowers to 0.02 for anyone under the age of 21.
Both the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and a forensic engineering firm completed separate reconstruction reports of the crash.
Court documents show the two reports agreed on a number of key points:
- the Chevy Silverado McClaine and Sherill were sitting in was facing south and partially in the northbound lane of County Road 25 West with its left tires more than a foot past the pavement’s edge
- there was no evidence to suggest the Silverado’s headlights were on
- Lengacher’s Tahoe was going 62 mph 2.5 seconds before impact and 57 mph 0.5 seconds before impact
- The speed limit in that area of County Road 25 West was 40 mph
- Based on airbag control module’s pre-crash data, Lengacher applied the Tahoe’s brakes between 2 and 2.5 seconds prior to impact
The two reports disagreed on one major point.
The reconstruction report from the sheriff’s office found the crash could NOT have been avoided even if Lengacher was going the speed limit of 40.
However, the report from the engineering firm said Lengacher could have come to a complete stop and avoided the crash if he had been going the speed limit. The report also said even at 62 mph, he also could have came to a complete stop or at least lessened the severity of the impact if he had braked properly.
A warrant was issued for Lengacher’s arrest on August 31, 2022.
Lengacher, who is now 19, was arrested on September 6 for a total of ten charges including reckless homicide, causing death when operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or more, and causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Lengacher is set for a jury trial in December.
Police also did a follow-up interview with Sherill in August of 2022. She told police she still had issues with her eye and part of her leg was still broken, making it difficult for her to work.