5:35 PM EST, February 17, 2013
HARTFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Van Buren County police have released the names of four women killed in a three-vehicle crash Saturday night.
It happened just after 6 p.m. on County Road 687, which is also known as 64th Street, near the intersection of 66th Avenue.
Police say a van slid through the intersection and hit a 2011 Buick Lucerne, pushing it into the opposite lane where it was hit a pickup truck.
All four of the people who died were in the Buick.
Sheriff Dale Gribler says Celeste Phillips, 67, from Hartford was driving the Buick. Kathryn Maya, 56, of Kalamazoo, was riding in the front seat. Lou Ann Holcomb, 56, from Hartford and Charlotte Seiber, 51, of Hartford were in the backseat. All were wearing their seat belts, but that wasn't enough to save them.
The driver of the pickup was rushed to the hospital. Thomas Stewart, 57, of Dowagiac suffered hand and body trauma.
The two people in the van which police say caused the crash were not hurt.
It was snowing when the crash occurred. Police say weather was a factor.
Sheriff Gribler says a preliminary investigation shows the driver of the van was heading east on 66th Ave. when she tried to stop at the intersection. She wasn't able to and hit the Buick, which was traveling south on County Road 687. After being struck, the Buick spun on the icy roadway directly into the path of the pickup.
Families of the victims told police the four women were returning home from a dinner outing in northern Indiana. The victims all attended the same church in Keeler, Mich.
The investigation is ongoing and once completed will be forwarded to the Van Buren County prosecutor's office for review.
Just two hours after the deadly car crash, just about a block away, a car-train crash occurred on 65th street in Hartford Township. No injuries were reported there.
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