Walter Smith

Walter Smith

Two drivers were killed in crashes Wednesday morning that police say were caused in part by “black ice” on local roads.

A Goshen driver died in a single-vehicle rollover crash at 7:56 a.m. near New Paris.

According to a report by Elkhart County Sheriff’s Ptl. Don Cramer, James C. Richards, 62, 66211 Ind. 15, was driving a 2004 GMC Envoy sport utility vehicle south on Ind. 15, north of C.R. 50.

After passing another vehicle, the driver lost control of his SUV. The GMC went off the west side of the highway and rolled over several times. The driver was thrown out of the vehicle before it came to rest against a garage at the property of Michael Penrose, 70503 Ind. 15, New Paris.

Richards was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident is under investigation by sheriff’s officers. The vehicle was demolished.

Rieth-Rohrer-Ehret Funeral Home, Goshen, is in charge of his funeral arrangements.

In an accident earlier Wednesday, a Shipshewana driver died and a White Pigeon, Mich., driver was injured in a head-on crash on Ind. 120 near the east county line at 5:55 a.m.

According to a report by Elkhart County Sheriff’s Ptl. Thad Grove, Walter J. Smith, 27, 8015 N. 1150 West, Shipshewana, was driving a 1991 Pontiac west on Ind. 120 and lost control on “black ice” on the highway.

The car went left of the centerline and collided with an oncoming 2007 Ford pickup truck driven by Reginald Jon Platz, 54, 71261 Vistula Road, White Pigeon.

Smith died of injuries sustained in the crash. Platz suffered a broken ankle.

Elkhart County and LaGrange County sheriff’s officers investigated the crash.

The National Weather Services issued an advisory Wednesday morning warning of the development of black ice on roads across northern Indiana, southern Michigan and northeast Ohio.

The condition was caused by a frost that occurred during the night and then melted and then refroze on roadways. The National Weather Service advised that intersections and bridges were particularly slippery. The Weather Service reported that many accidents occurred Wednesday morning in the tri-state area because of the ice.

Weather Service officials said, “This type of ice is virtually invisible on the road surface and can cause you to lose control of your car. Leave extra space between vehicles and prepare to stop much earlier than normal.”

Walter J.B. Smith

Sept. 14, 1979-Jan. 3, 2007

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — Walter John Benjamin Smith, 27, 8015 N. 1150 West, died at 6:27 a.m. Wednesday at the scene of a two-vehicle crash U.S. 120, Middlebury.

He was born Sept. 14, 1979, in Elkhart, to Tim Smith and Trula (Ueberroth) Sisson.

On Dec. 19, 2005, he married Rebekah Ward in LaGrange County.

He was employed as a machine operator at Trelleborg, Bristol.

He was a tattoo artist and enjoyed playing guitar.

He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Trula (Ted) Sisson, Elkhart; his father, Tim Smith, Elkhart; his wife; two daughters, Ayranna and Savannah Smith, both of Elkhart; two sons, Malaki Smith, Shipshewana, and Dameon Smith, Elkhart; a brother Tim Smith Jr., Florida; and grandmother, Barbara Smith, Elkhart.

Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Miller-Stewart Funeral Home, Middlebury.

The funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home, with his father-in-law, Ken Ward, officiating.

Burial will be in Grace Lawn Cemetery, Middlebury.

Online condolences may be directed to

The family phone number is 825-0956.

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