ISP investigating a single-vehicle fatal crash on I-69 in DeKalb County

DEKALB CO. –  The Indiana State Police is investigating a single-vehicle fatal crash that occurred early Saturday morning on I-69 near the 335-mile marker in DeKalb County. This area is just south of the Waterloo exit.

The Dekalb County Coroner’s Office has positively identified the deceased driver involved in Saturday morning interstate crash as Michelle Dawn Peppler, 50, of Butler, Indiana.  The identification was confirmed via fingerprint analysis. Family members have been notified.


At approximately 1:15 a.m., troopers from the Fort Wayne Post along with officers from the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department, Auburn, and Ashley Police Departments responded to a reported crash near the 335mm involving a vehicle fire. 

Trooper Blake Kugler was first on the scene and confirmed the fire. Trooper Kugler grabbed his fire extinguisher and attempted to extinguish enough to make entry into the passenger compartment, but he was unable to subdue the flames and heavy smoke.  Waterloo Fire Department arrived on the scene and quickly extinguished the fire.  

 The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu was found to be occupied by an adult female (sole occupant) in the driver seat of the vehicle.  She was pronounced dead on the scene by the DeKalb County Coroner. 

Due to the extent of the fire damage, there was no means of positively identifying the deceased driver at the scene. The Coroner took possession of the body. The Coroner’s investigation will work to make positive identification and toxicology.

Trooper Kugler assumed the official crash investigation. His preliminary investigation revealed evidence of a front right tire failure on the Malibu, which began at 333.5mm, nearly two miles south of the crash scene. There was no other evidence to suggest that the vehicle came into contact with any other vehicle or object prior to going off-road and catching fire at the 335mm. 

This remains an ongoing investigation.  At this time there is no further information to release.  At the point in time when positive identification is made, an update to this release will be sent out.

Agencies assisting Trooper Kugler with this investigation: DeKalb County Sheriffs Department, Ashley Police Department, Waterloo Fire Department, Parkview EMS, DeKalb County Coroner’s Office, and Auburn Police Department.