Woman to be cited in Phelps accident

A 28-year-old woman who was slightly injured when her Honda Accord hit a Cadillac Escalade driven by Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps in Baltimore's Mid-Town Belvedere neighborhood is to be charged with running a red light, a city police spokesman said Friday.

The woman is identified in a police report as Amanda Elizabeth Virkus of Sandy Spring in Montgomery County. If found guilty of the citation, she faces a $180 fine and three points against her driving record. Virkus suffered neck and shoulder injuries, according to the city Fire Department, and was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released.

Phelps and his three passengers - a man from Ann Arbor, Mich., a woman from Staten Island, N.Y., and a woman from Baltimore - were not injured in the accident at 9 p.m. Thursday at North Calvert and East Biddle streets that left the 2009 Escalade with a crumpled front end and its driver's side air bag deployed.

But the Baltimore Police Department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said Phelps gave officers an invalid Michigan driver's license. The spokesman said Phelps will be summoned to court for the driver's license problem and was issued a $40 citation because he hasn't established a legal residency in Maryland.

Phelps, who grew up in Rodgers Forge and now lives in a waterfront condo in Fells Point, has trained for several years with his coach, Bob Bowman, at the University of Michigan as well as in Baltimore. Neither Phelps nor Bowman could be reached for comment; his agent did not return several calls on Friday.

The police report says Phelps told officers that he had one beer an hour and a half before the accident. Police said they put Phelps in a squad car, where he did "not show any signs of fatigue or alcohol use. Mr. Phelps was able to converse lucidly and was able to walk steadily without assistance. In addition there was no odor of alcohol about his person." The report concludes there was no legal probable cause to administer a Breathalyzer test.

Phelps - who holds the Olympic record with 14 gold medals, including eight at the games in China - pleaded guilty in 2004 to driving while impaired by alcohol in Wicomico County on the Eastern Shore. More recently, he was photographed holding a bong commonly used to smoke marijuana, which got him suspended from his sport for three months.

Police said Phelps was eastbound on Biddle Street and had a green light at Calvert Street. They said Virkus was driving north on Calvert. A woman walking on the east side of Calvert told police that she saw the crosswalk sign on the east side of Calvert "change from a blinking upraised hand to a solid upraised hand [and] observed a silver Honda Accord travel [northbound] on Calvert Street [and] run the red light."

The woman told police, according to the report, that the Escalade entered the intersection simultaneously, and the collision sent both cars sliding northeast across the intersection, where the Honda slammed into the back of a parked car and the Escalade hit and overturned a mail box.

In an interview with police at the scene, an officer asked Phelps, "What color was the light?" and he answered, "Green, 100%," according to the report. Phelps told the officer he had been coming from Penn Station. The officer then asked him, "Had you been drinking tonight?" and Phelps answered, "One beer at 7:30 p.m., and I left the house at 8:10 p.m."

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