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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2007
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A state trooper inspects an SUV involved in Tuesday's crash on Interstate 65 while a MedFlight helicopter prepares to land to transport the injured driver of the car that hit the SUV to Huntsville Hospital. Witnesses said the car's driver was driving erratically before the wreck. An ambulance took the SUV driver to Decatur General Hospital.
Daily photo by John Godbey
A state trooper inspects an SUV involved in Tuesday's crash on Interstate 65 while a MedFlight helicopter prepares to land to transport the injured driver of the car that hit the SUV to Huntsville Hospital. Witnesses said the car's driver was driving erratically before the wreck. An ambulance took the SUV driver to Decatur General Hospital.

2 injured in I-65 collision
Car hits SUV in stalled traffic, then slams into tractor-trailer

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

A collision involving a car, an SUV and a tractor-trailer on Interstate 65 sent two people to the hospital Tuesday afternoon, state troopers said.

Emergency personnel responding to the 3:20 p.m. wreck near Exit 340 closed the northbound lanes of I-65 to land MedFlight, which took the car's driver to Huntsville Hospital. An ambulance took the sport utility vehicle's driver to Decatur General Hospital.

State troopers had not released the names of those involved as of press time.

Witnesses said the car's driver was driving erratically prior to the accident. Two witnesses said they were on their mobile phones reporting the driver to dispatchers when the collision took place.

Approaching traffic stalled south of Interstate 565, where an interchange on-ramp merges into a stretch of I-65 undergoing maintenance. The car continued moving at high rate of speed, witnesses said.

The car went under the back end of the stopped SUV and slammed into the back of the tractor-trailer stopped in front of it.

"She (the driver of the car) hit her (the driver of the SUV) so hard, it tossed her up in the air four or five feet and spun her around," said George Rhodes, a trucker from Charlotte, Tenn.

Rhodes parked his rig to block traffic while he checked on the injured drivers.

A volunteer fireman, Rhodes tried to stabilize the car's driver, who appeared to have suffered the worst injuries, until medical personnel arrived.

"She had minor lacerations on both arms, discoloration where the airbag hit her on the chest. Mainly, she was conscious, but she was not responsive, just sort of in and out," he said.

Rhodes speculated the woman could have suffered some other medical condition prior to the wreck that would explain the erratic driving.

"I never smelled any alcohol. She was just in and out. She was just like a limp rag," he said.

The driver of the SUV suffered soreness, contusions on her legs and a cut on her eye, Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the driver of the car had run off the roadway into the grassy median and corrected just moments before the accident.

Earlier, witnesses said, she had pulled from the roadside into the middle of traffic, nearly causing a tractor-trailer to wreck in an attempt to avoid her.

The wreck remains under investigation, state troopers said.

En route to the wreck, Decatur Fire and Rescue's Engine No. 1 became involved in a separate collision with a car near the scene of the first accident. No one was injured in that wreck, state troopers said. The car suffered damage to its passenger side.

The southbound lane of the interstate remained closed about an hour while responders worked to clear both wrecks, but traffic redirected from I-65 created tie-ups along I-565 and Alabama 20.

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