Family found murdered after wrong-way Interstate 94 crash

August 16, 2012 (PORTAGE, Ind.)

The LaPorte County crash took place just after 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 94 at Mile Marker 43, about three miles east of the Michigan City exit.

The drivers have been identified as Juan Nelson Jr., 45, of Portage, Indiana, and Michael Van Der Linden, 38, of Belleville, Michigan, who was driving a Chrysler 300.

Upon arriving at Van der Linden's Belleville home, police say they found the door wide open. Van der Linden's wife and two young children were found stabbed to death inside the home.

Indiana State Police say Van der Linden's Chrysler got on I-94 traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes. Nelson's vehicle was traveling westbound in the center lane when the two vehicles collided head-on. The crash impact ignited a fire that engulfed both vehicles.

After firefighters from the LaPorte Fire Department extinguished the flames, both drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles. The LaPorte County coroner pronounced both drivers dead at the scene.

It is not yet clear if Van der Linden drove the wrong way intentionally or not, but even in darkness, the proper turn into the westbound lanes is quite evident: There are numerous signs saying "Wrong Way."

Van der Linden traveled the wrong way for a little under a mile before his car struck Nelson's vehicle.

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