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After fatal head-on wreck, wrong-way driver's wife and two children found slain at home

Indiana State Police via AP

Police say the drivers of two vehicles were killed early Thursday in a fiery wreck after one of them was driving the wrong way down Interstate 94 near Michigan City, Ind.

A woman and her two young sons were found dead in their suburban Detroit home Thursday when police went there to notify her that her husband had died in a fiery, head-on car wreck in Indiana, police said.

Police in Wayne County’s Van Buren Township said they went to the home around 8:30 a.m. after being notified of a man’s death in a car crash near Michigan City, Ind. They found a door to the house ajar, and when no one responded, police went inside and found a woman, 34, and her 4-year-old and 7-year-old sons dead in beds in separate bedrooms.

The identities of the victims have not been released and police would not say how the three were killed, but the case was being investigated as a homicide. Police said a possible weapon was found in the home.

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Earlier Thursday, police identified the father of the children and husband of the woman, Michael Van Der Linden, 39, as one of two drivers killed in a car crash near Michigan City, Ind., Thursday morning.

Indiana State Police said State Trooper Lawrence McFarrin responded at about 1:35 a.m. to a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 94 in northern Indiana near Michigan City.

The preliminary investigation revealed that Van Der Linden left a highway rest area driving on the wrong side of the road and crashed head-on with another vehicle, causing a fire that engulfed both vehicles.

The LaPorte County Fire Department – also called to the scene – extinguished the flames and found the drivers in the wreckage.

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LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan pronounced the drivers, Van Der Linden and 45-year-old Juan Nelson of Portage, Ind., dead at the scene, police said.

The causes of death for both men were fourth-degree burns and blunt force trauma, Sullivan said, and the deaths were ruled accidental at this time.

Two westbound lanes of I-94 near Michigan City were closed for several hours after the crash.

A statement released by the Van Buren School District Thursday afternoon said the two boys were students and had finished the first grade and preschool earlier this year. 

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