Investigators: Driver fell asleep before June 9 crash that killed three Phenix City teenagers

tchitwood@ledger-enqurier.comJune 20, 2013 

The driver in a June 9 one-car accident that killed three Phenix City teenagers in Seale, Ala., fell asleep at the wheel, ran off the road and over-corrected before the 2003 GMC Envoy hit a guardrail and flipped 40 feet off a bridge, authorities reported today.

Killed in the Sunday afternoon wreck at the U.S. 431 bridge over Carver Road were Central-Phenix City students Darius Washington, 15; Chelsea Tolbert, 15; and Kateria Robinson, 16, investigators said. Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. pronounced them dead at the scene.

The driver, Marvin Anthony Alexander, 37, was only about 13 miles from his Masons Drive home in Phenix City when the crash happened.

He was driving the Envoy north in the divided highway’s left lane at 3:10 p.m. when he dozed off and drifted off the highway's left side, investigators said. When he snapped awake, he turned so hard to the right that he lost control of the SUV, which then swerved from the right lane across the left and again ran off the road's left side, where it hit a median guardrail and ran along the rail until it came to the bridge over Carver Road, troopers said.

At the bridge, the Envoy vaulted over the guardrail and flipped in mid-air over Carver Road before landing on its roof upon a second guardrail on the dirt road’s north side, investigators said. After landing on its roof, the sport-utility vehicle flipped again and came to rest upright on its wheels, they said.

Seven people were inside, and all were wearing seat belts, authorities said. The driver and three passengers were injured.

The official crash report on the wreck says Alexander “stated while he was driving back from vacation, he dozed off and fell asleep behind the wheel.” He told troopers “when the vehicle ran off the road, that woke him up and he jerked the steering wheel (overcorrected) which caused him to run back off the road,” the report says.

Passengers Joann Robinson Bellamy, 58, and Kelsey Bellamy, 17, a Central High School junior, were taken to The Medical Center in Columbus. Tramain Evans, 9, a Ridgecrest Elementary fourth grader, was airlifted to Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

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