Bizarre car crash injures three Wheel that fell off stolen Jeep causes mishap.


Three people remained hospitalized today following a bizarre traffic accident on Interstate 295 near Waterview Avenue in the Westport section over the weekend, police said.

Officer Tony Petralia, a traffic investigator, said a stolen 1987 Jeep pickup truck was southbound on I-295 about 2:30 a.m. yesterday when its left front wheel came off. The unidentified driver left the roadway when the axle struck the pavement and the vehicle was abandoned, Officer Petralia said.

The Jeep's wheel, which was lying in the fast lane, was struck by a 1990 Honda driven by Jerry Gilmer, 22, a soldier stationed at Fort Meade, Officer Petralia said. The wheel became wedged under the front of the Honda, causing the driver to stop in the fast lane.

One of Mr. Gilmer's passengers, Kenneth Wenger, 23, another Fort Meade soldier, was trying to remove the tire from under the car while Mr. Gilmer backed it up slowly, when a 1992 Oldsmobile driven by Rodney Johnson, 25, of Alexandria, Va., crashed into the rear of the Honda, went over its top and overturned, Officer Petralia said.

The impact knocked Mr. Wenger into the air before he landed on the roadway, Officer Petralia said.

Mr. Wenger was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center, where he was listed today in serious condition with head and upper-body injuries.

Mr. Gilmer was not hurt, but Mr. Phillips and Kimberly Huntley, 23, of Staunton, Va., also a passenger in the Honda, were in serious condition today at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Officer Petralia said.

Mr. Johnson was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and released. He was charged with speeding and negligent driving, Officer Petralia said.

He said the Honda's warning lights were flashing at the time of the collision.

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