This morning, at approximately 12:14 a.m., an off-duty Elkhart Police Department officer in a marked squad car called the Elkhart City 911 Communications Center to report observing a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed near Elkhart High School on California Rd. The off-duty officer reported to Communications that this vehicle crashed with another vehicle near the intersection of California Rd and N Nappanee St.
Other Elkhart Police Department officers and first responders dispatched and arrived shortly thereafter. Responding officers observed a GMC Envoy with heavy front end damage in the intersection. One female passenger of the Envoy, a 33 year old female, complained of pain and was treated on scene by medics; she was transported by medics to the hospital for treatment and evaluation of non life-threatening injuries. The male driver of the Envoy, a 29 year old male, and a male and female passenger in the Envoy did not require or declined further treatment.
Officers observed the suspect vehicle, a Honda CRV, heavily damaged and lying on its roof in the grass southeast of the intersection. The CRV allegedly struck multiple objects during the incident, including a utility pole, a tree, and a light pole. The driver of the CRV, a 22 year old male, was ejected from the vehicle during the crash and was unresponsive. He was transported by medics to the hospital where he was subsequently pronounced deceased. He has been identified as Braxton Smith of Bristol, IN.
During the investigation, officers also observed extensive damage to two vehicles from crash debris on the Lochmandy Motors property (both Ford F-150s). The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene and assisted with the investigation. Their crash reconstruction team took over the accident investigation and the Elkhart County Homicide Unit was called in to assist. The Elkhart County Homicide Unit was activated and took over the investigation, per protocol. All further inquiries regarding the status of the investigation should be directed to the Homicide Unit at 574-295-2825.