Family members remember loved ones lost in deadly crash on Hwy 41

Coroner identifies 3 victims in fatal crash
Updated: Sep. 22, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville Police say the driver of the pick-up truck involved in a deadly crash Monday on Highway 41 will be charged with three counts of reckless homicide.

They say 42-year-old Damon Busby, of Henderson, ran a red light at Riverside Drive and was speeding when he crashed into the back of an SUV that was stopped at Highway 41 and Covert intersection.

Damon Busby
Damon Busby(Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office)

Sgt. Winsett says there is dashcam video showing Busby speeding.

“It is hard because a lot of the measurements they take is from the skid marks," said Sgt. Winsett. "You can measure the skid marks, and there’s a formula involved to get the speed. Here we don’t have the skid marks. There is a way, and they’re working on trying to figure that out from the video, the speed. And they’re currently working on that.”

It happened around 2:15 p.m.

The crash caused a large fire, and the three people inside the SUV were killed.

Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear identifies the three victims as Crystal Lawrence, age 36 of Evansville, along with her children Abigail Lawrence, age 16, and Chase Lawrence, age 6. He says all three of them died upon impact.

Police say there were no skid marks, and they are looking at surveillance to determine how fast Busby was driving.

They say they are still waiting on lab results from Busby’s blood.

According to officers, Good Samaritans helped get Busby out of the truck.

“They knew because both vehicles were on fire, they knew he didn’t have a lot of time," said Sgt. Nick Winsett. "They acted really quickly. When they showed up to the driver’s side door, they could see where his hair was on fire. They basically got him out of his seat belt right away, and pulled him to safety.”

Busby is still in the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Police say the Good Samaritans also ran over to the SUV in an attempt to rescue the individuals in that vehicle, but the flames were too hot and they were unsuccessful.

“You could smell the tires burning and everything. It was just like a big mushroom cloud - like a bomb went off,” said Jason Roy.

The road was closed for several hours for reconstruction.

It’s been nothing short of an emotional 24 hours for this family, losing three of their own. They came to the crash scene Tuesday afternoon to lay flowers and crosses, honoring their loved ones.

Devastation is what family members say they feel after remembering their loved ones.

The family is having a hard time processing the terrifying scene that killed Crystal Lawrence and her children, Abby and Chase.

“Can’t get rid of the vision of them hurting and screaming, and I try to tell them we can’t think like that. We’ve got to think that there was no pain and that God removed all of that so they couldn’t feel any of that," Penny Walters, a family member said.

Crystal’s aunt and mother share how they learned of the crash Monday afternoon.

“The detective calls me and tells me what happened. How they got into a wreck, the car caught on fire, as far as they know, nobody made it. I’m going to believe that they died on impact. It’s easier for me to believe that they died on impact,” Melody Tabor, Crystal’s mother said.

Police say the impact caused the van to catch fire, killing the three.

“I have to be honest, what was so important that he had to run a red light and go so fast that he hit my daughter and grandkids and killed them?" Tabor asked.

A family - now left with only memories.

“Crystal was my firstborn daughter. She was a very meek, nice, kind person. Didn’t dislike anybody. Abby was an outgoing 16-year-old and she loved everybody too. Chase was an outgoing 6-year-old keeping his mom going. He was just a little cuddle bunny too,” Tabor said.

The family has set up an account at Fifth Third bank named ‘Crystal’ for anyone who wants to donate to funeral expenses.

If anyone witnessed this crash, they are asked to contact the Evansville Police Department’s Detective Office at 812-436-7979.

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