The Jasper man accused of driving drunk on Interstate 69 in Greene County last month, and killing three members of a Warrwick County family, faced a judge for the first time Tuesday for his arraignment.
19-year old Mason Hartke is charged with three counts of operating while intoxicated with a Blood Alcohol Content greater than .08 percent causing death and three counts of reckless homicide.
All six of the charges are Level 5 felonies, which are punishable by a one- to six-year sentence, with the advisory sentence being three years. In his initial hearing on Tuesday, Hartke was also informed that his license is now suspended.
In the early morning hours of Sunday November 13th troopers with the Indiana State Police post in Bloomington were called to the report of a car versus deer crash that occurred on I-69 in Greene County near the 103-mile marker. The accident took place just after 4 a.m.
Hartke was reportedly on his way back to Jasper after a night of partying at Indiana University.
Upon arrival police observed a large amount of debris in the roadway as well as a passenger car and an inverted pickup truck near the earthen embankment on the west side of the interstate.
An investigation into the crash found that a passenger car driven by 46-year old David Rinehart of Newburgh was traveling southbound on I-69 and had struck a deer, causing Rhinehart to pull his car onto the outside shoulder and come to a stop.
Afterward, police say a mid-size pickup truck driven by Hartke was traveling southbound on the interstate approaching the scene of the the car versus deer accident.
Police say Hartke’s truck left the southbound lanes of traffic and entered the outside shoulder, striking Rhinehart’s car.
The crash killed David Rinehart as well as his mother, 74-year old Ruth Rinehart and his daughter 17-year old Sophie Rinehart.
Another passenger in the car 18-year old Josie Rinehart also of Newburgh, suffered cuts and abrasions and was transported to IU Health Bloomington.
Hartke was taken to IU Health for a fractured arm.
The court entered a not guilty plea on Hartke’s behalf. He is expected back in court on February 13th.