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Teen survives Indiana pileup that killed her Twin Cities grandparents

A chain-reaction crash during stop-and-go traffic on an Indiana interstate has left a Twin Cities couple dead and their teenage granddaughter in the SUV hospitalized after being trapped and conscious for nearly an hour, authorities said Sunday.

The crash occurred about 12:10 p.m. Saturday on westbound Interstate 70 southwest of New Castle, according to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Dead at the scene in east-central Indiana were Sylvia K. Shaw, 66, and John L. Shaw, 66, both of New Brighton, Minn., the Sheriff’s Office said.

The 13-year-old granddaughter in the SUV, who lives in Minneapolis, was removed by emergency personnel and airlifted to a hospital in Indianapolis, where she is being treated for a broken hip, and arm and leg fractures, said Sheriff’s Deputy Landon Dean, the first responder on the scene.

“You just wouldn’t believe that she was able to survive that accident,” Dean said, calling it “a miracle (that) she is going to be OK.” Everyone in the SUV had on seat belts, he added.

The Shaws’ SUV was “absolutely unrecognizable,” the deputy said.

The couple and their granddaughter were returning from a trip to Washington, D.C., and were on their way to Indianapolis to visit relatives, Dean said.

“You could see just a little spot of blue jeans; that’s how I knew someone was in the back,” Dean said, recalling when he first approached the mangled vehicle. “I could hear her crying.”

A semi hit the Shaws’ SUV from behind, pushing the smaller vehicle into the back of another big rig and then into a car, authorities said.

Dean said traffic was slowing for construction about 2 miles ahead, which was reducing the interstate to one lane.

All passengers in the other vehicles escaped without injury in the crash.

The driver of the semi that hit the SUV, Richard Engstrom, 59, of Indianapolis, “didn’t know traffic was stopped for some reason,” Dean said. “There’s a question about how long he had been driving.”