4 Killed In Deadly Crash In Van Buren County

Posted at 11:16 PM, Feb 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-26 18:10:40-04

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich.– Four people died in a three-vehicle crash in Hartford Township on Saturday evening.

The crash happened at County Road 687 and 66th Avenue in Van Buren County, just south of the city of Hartford, at 6:10 p.m. Upon arriving at the scene, deputies and EMS workers located three vehicles involved in the crash.  Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office deputies then found that four women, all in the same vehicle –a 2011 Buick Lucerne — who had died at the scene.

The four were identified as Celeste Phillips, 67, of Hartford, the driver; Kathryn Maya, 56, of Kalamazoo, a front seat passenger; Lou Ann Holcomb, 56, of Hartford, a back seat passenger; and Charlotte Sieber, 51, of Hartford, another back-seat passenger. All were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Deputies also discovered that the driver and sole occupant in a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck — Thomas Stewart, 57, of Dowagiac — that was involved in the crash had sustained a severe hand injury along with back and neck pain.

The driver and a passenger in the third vehicle — a 1997 Dodge Caravan — were not injured.

Medical staff from Pride Care EMS and the Hartford Fire Department then began to treat the driver of the pickup truck and then began to gain access to the heavily damaged Buick Lucerne.

A preliminary investigation found that the driver of the Dodge Caravan was traveling eastbound on 66th Avenue when she attempted to stop at the intersection at County Road 687.  The driver was unable to stop prior to entering the intersection and struck the Buick Lucerne, which was southbound on County Road 687.  After being hit, the Lucerne then began to spin on the icy roadway directly into the path of the Chevrolet Silverado.  After being struck, the Lucerne and the  Silverado then came to rest in the middle of County Road 687.

While notifying the families of the victims of the crash, it was found that the four who died were returning home from a dinner outing in Indiana.  The four victims all attended the same church in Keeler. Mich.

The investigation is still ongoing and once completed will be forwarded to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office for review.  The exact cause of deaths and the complete factors of the crash have yet to be determined.

Several of the vehicles involved were severely mangled in the wreckage.

The roads were cleared around 9 p.m.