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Published: Thursday, 8/5/2004

3 seriously injured in crash of SUV, rig


An early morning crash along U.S. 223 in Adrian, Mich., yesterday left three people severely injured and a lot full of used cars in ruins.

The accident occurred at 4:03 a.m. when a sport utility vehicle headed south on Winter Street disregarded a stop sign while trying to turn east onto U.S. 223, authorities said. The vehicle struck a tractor-trailer going east on U.S. 223 in the side, causing both cars to careen off-course. The SUV crashed head-on into a power pole, leading to power outages along U.S. 233 and South Main Street in Adrian, while the tractor-trailer plowed into a lot full of used cars belonging to Greg Bell Chevrolet.

"It looked like a bomb blew up," said Matt Bell, who works at the dealership. "The semi plowed through the entire front row."

In all, 17 vehicles were damaged - half of them "totaled," Mr. Bell said.

Though no one was tested for intoxication at the scene, Adrian police Chief Michael Martin said he believed alcohol may have been a factor in the crash based on the results of a preliminary

investigation. Chief Martin declined to comment if and when any charges would be filed.

Mr. Martin did say he was certain that the driver of the semi, identified as George Phebus Jr., 56, of Jackson, Mich., was not at fault. Mr. Phebus, who works for Alro Steel, out of Jackson, Mich., sought his own treatment at Bixby Medical Center in Adrian, and was released.

Police are now focusing their investigation on the utility vehicle, which was driven by Cody Mullis, 18, who recently arrived to the area from Georgia and lives in Clinton, Mich, authorities said.

Also in the vehicle were Justin Owns, 16, of Adrian; Cody Emmons, 16, of Adrian; and Aaron Feldcamp, 20, of Hudson, all of whom were hurt seriously and are being treated at Toledo Hospital.

Mr. Seldcamp and Mr. Emmons are in serious condition, while Mr. Owens is in critical condition.

Authorities said Mr. Mullis sought treatment on his own at Herrick Memorial Hospital, though the hospital had no information on Mr. Mullis.

Police said several but not all the occupants of the SUV were wearing seat belts, though at this point in the investigation, they offered no additional details.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner @theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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