New Paris crash victims identified

Apr. 27—ELKHART — The three victims of a fatal, three-vehicle crash Thursday just south of New Paris have been identified.

Ana Lilia Soto Martinez, 28, Estefania Esparza Acevedo, 23, and Manuel Natanie Esparza Acevedo, 22, all of Zacatecas, Mexico died in the crash, which took place just after 3 p.m. on Ind. 15.

Estefania Acevedo, who was the driver, and Manuel Acevedo were both ejected from the vehicle. Martinez and Estefania Acevedo were wearing their seatbelts, and Manuel Acevedo was not, according to an Elkhart County Sheriff's Office news release.

The Dodge Journey all three victims were in was headed south, south of C.R. 146, when it turned left, crossing the center line into the northbound lane, directly in front of a 2020 International LT625 semi-tractor driven by Mark Labouef, 49, Almo, Kentucky, according to Elkhart County deputies. The passenger side of the Dodge was struck by the front end of the semi-tractor.

A 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, driven by Lezlie Hein, 34, Warsaw, was following behind the Dodge and was struck with debris from this impact. Neither Labouef nor Hein were injured.

ECSO Spokesperson Lt. Casey Lehman said by email Saturday that the crash remains under investigation.

"We are awaiting final verdicts from the Coroners Office as to manner and cause of death as well as toxicology on all drivers," Lehman stated. "The State Department of Toxicology takes 4-6 weeks to get us results back. Once that is received, the Prosecutor's Office will review the investigation as protocol to make sure charges or no charges are appropriate.

"Once they complete their review, the case will be suspended if no charges are filed. There is dash cam video from the semi, which helps clear up the events leading up to the crash."

Steve Wilson is news editor for The Goshen News. You can reach him at