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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2005

U.S. 23 crash kills woman, injures 3

MILAN, Mich. - A Milford, Mich., woman died Tuesday night and another woman was hurt critically in a one-vehicle accident in Monroe County's Milan Township that backed up traffic on U.S. 23 for four hours.

Amber Phelps, 22, of Beachwood, Ohio, was northbound on U.S. 23 near the Cone Road exit at 7:21 when her sport utility vehicle left the freeway and rolled over several times on the median before coming to rest in the southbound lane, Monroe County sheriff's deputies said.

Ms. Phelps; a passenger, Ashley Johnson, 21, of Milford, Mich., and a 3-week-old infant, Kali Phelps, of Beachwood, were thrown from the vehicle.

Ms. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Phelps was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital, where she was in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said last night.

Kali, whom deputies said was found face-down in the muddy median, was flown to the university hospital, where she was in fair condition last night. Deputies said the infant, Ms. Phelp's child, appeared to have been thrown from a rear-seat child restrainer.

Another passenger, Christine Phelps, 10, of Beachwood was in good condition last night at UM. Christine was wearing a safety belt and was not thrown from the vehicle, deputies said.

Deputy Dan Zdybek said the group was headed from Beachwood to the home of Ms. Johnson's parents in Milford. The Johnsons and the Phelpses are cousins, he said.

Deputy Zdybek said investigators have not yet determined the cause.

Northbound and southbound U.S. 23 traffic was routed around the scene via the Cone road exits.

Though traffic continued to move, it was backed up for hours. The accident scene was cleared by 12:40 a.m., Deputy Zdybek said.

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