Two families mourning after truck slams into house, killing three

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— The niece of the Evansville couple killed after a truck crashed through their bedroom early Sunday morning said family members spent part of that day getting a firsthand look at the scene.

Carmi, Ill., resident Susan Keck said family left it up to her father, Harold Meriwether, to decide if he wanted to see what remained of the South Norman Avenue home that belonged to his brother Homer Meriwether, 75, and his wife, 74-year-old Lela, who was his high school sweetheart.

A previous story in the Courier & Press misspelled the Meriwether’s last name.

“I guess it was something that he needed for closure, but it was very sad and hard to do, but we did it because we wanted to be there for him,” Keck said about her father’s wishes.

Homer and Lela Meriwether were asleep in their bedroom when a truck driven by 24-year-old Thomas Hodgson of Newburgh crashed through their home, which sits on a sharp curve Sunday, just before 3 a.m. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the initial crash report from the Evansville Police Department, Hodgson, a 2007 Castle High School graduate, lost control of his 1996

Chevrolet pickup while going east on Riverside Drive. The truck flew over the guardrail before hitting the house with so much force that it went through the bedroom and back out into the yard.

Keck extended sympathy to Hodgson’s family.

“I feel for the other family too because they have lost too, and besides they know that he killed two people,” she said. “It’s probably harder for them than it is for us. It’s just sad.”

A phone call to the number listed for Hodgson’s residence Monday was passed to a woman who identified herself as Hodgson’s aunt. She said the family offers their condolences to the Meriwether family as well and that her nephew would be devastated if he knew what happened.

“Thomas, he was a very, very good young man. He worked two jobs, took care of his mother,” the woman said, her voice trailing off. “This is just a tragic, tragic thing that happened.”

A full investigation into the crash will take a “few weeks,” according to Sgt. Jason Cullum of the Evansville Police Department. The initial report noted that there was ice on the road when the crash happened, but only lists the cause of the crash as “running off the road.” Toxicology reports are due back in three weeks, Vanderburgh County Coroner Annie Groves said Monday.

Keck described the Meriwethers as “a great aunt and uncle who lived a happy life.” Keck said Homer and Lela Meriwether had been together since their high school years — during which they even let Harold Meriwether, three years Homer’s junior, tag along on some of their dates.

“My dad says he hardly remembers life without Lela in it,” Keck said, “because Homer and her started dating so early and then they got married.”

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