CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago man who was killed in a huge pileup on I-94 in northwest Indiana on Thursday was headed to his lake house in La Porte at the time of the crash, and his sister said it was only by chance his wife wasn’t in the car with him.
Jerry Dalrymple, 65, was one of three people killed in a massive chain-reaction crash Thursday afternoon on I-94 near Michigan City, Ind. At least 46 vehicles, including 18 semi-trailer trucks, were involved in the wreck, amid whiteout conditions on the highway.
Dalrymple was pronounced dead at the scene after his small car was crushed between some of the trucks. A couple from Grand Rapids — Thomas and Marilyn Wolma — also died.
Dalrymple lived in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side. His sister, Deanna Dalrymple – who lives next door to Jerry and his wife Mary Ann – said he was driving to his lake house in La Porte, Ind., and his wife originally was supposed to go with him at first. Instead, Mary Ann stayed in Chicago so she could do a favor for Deanna on Friday.
“I don’t think we realized that the weather was that bad,” she said. “She knew. Matter of fact, she was driving me someplace today, otherwise she would have been in the car with him,” Deanna said Friday. “She said it was because she was doing something for me that she wasn’t in the car. I would have lost them both.”
From what she’s been told, Deanna said it appears he was one of the first people involved in the crash, and his car was hit by a semi; either from the side or the rear.
Deanna described Jerry as a family man first. He had four children, and four grandchildren. He also had a dog – a black lab named Sparky – who was always at his side, including in his car at the time of the crash. Sparky also died in the wreck.
Jerry also played the organ at his church.
He planned to retire at the lake house, where he enjoyed boating on Lake Michigan.
Jerry was well-known in La Porte, and his family said the coroner’s assistant in Porter County recognized him when his body was brought there, and was the one who contacted the Dalrymple family about his death.
However, by then, they already knew something was wrong, as it had been several hours since they heard from Jerry, and they sensed trouble.
Marilyn Wolma taught at Sibley Elementary School in Grand Rapids for more than 20 years and continued as a substitute teacher after she retired.