Auburn Couple Dies in Highway Crash

By Peter Ambrose
By Max Resnik

October 6, 2011 Updated Oct 6, 2011 at 5:33 PM EDT

GRANT COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Police want to know what caused 72-year-old John Martin Smith to lose control of his car on I-69.

The Auburn man was southbound on the interstate when for some reason, police say his car swerved across the median and into the northbound lanes at mile marker 70 in Grant County around 7PM Wednesday evening.

Then, while in the opposite lanes, a semi slammed into the rear of Smith's car, essentially crumpling it.

Smith and his wife, 69-year-old Barbara Smith, were thrown from the car and killed at the scene. The semi driver was not hurt.

Police are investigating the circumstances that led to the crash. They don't think drugs or alcohol were involved.

There were no cable barriers where the crash occurred. An INDOT spokesperson says barriers are scheduled to be installed in that section of highway along Grant County either in December or some time early next year. INDOT says the barriers are installed in areas where there is a high frequency of cross-over crashes.

The two are survived by their three sons and six grandchildren. John and Barbara were married in 1960.

John Martin Smith is best known for his educational efforts in the Auburn area. He founded the DeKalb County Historical Society, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum and the National Automotive and Truck Museum.

He also served on the Board of Trustees and as President of the Indiana Historical Society, on the Board of Directors and as Regional Vice President of the American Truck Historical Society, and on the Board of Directors of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

John Martin Smith was working a book about the Eckhart Public Library with Scott Bushnell before his death. Bushnell says John Martin Smith’s love of history began in fifth grade.

“He was just curious about everything. He always told a story that he knew what he wanted to be by fifth grade because his fifth grade teacher at Butler instilled in him a love of American history and a great love of Indiana History.”

While Martin Smith died at the age of 72, Bushnell says he lived the life he wanted.

“He loved what he did and he did what he loved. I think that necessarily is one of the great benefits of life.”

Indiana’s NewsCenter will continue to update this story as updates become available.

For a more detailed biographical account of John Martin Smith and Barbara Smith, check the related content.

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