Passerby flips car when distracted by fire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2004

A passing motorist, allegedly distracted by a burning car, flipped his own car Wednesday afternoon as he lost control and left the roadway.

Shelika Moore and her husband, Kelvin Coleman fled a burning ’96 Contour GL Ford on Henry Street, escaping with only minor injuries.

Then, as officials helped the couple, Marvin Wendall Rhodes left the road in an ’85 Nissan 300, flipped his car and snapped a telephone pole on the side of the road.

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Coleman and Moore were driving down Henry Street when smoke began pouring out of their air conditioning vents.

Moore, who was driving, rolled down the window to see if the haze she was seeing was coming from outside of the car.

When she and her husband realized the car was on fire, they threw the standard transmission car out of gear and fled the vehicle. Before Moore fled,

she attempted to grab some of her belongings from the car.

“My husband said, ‘Leave that stuff alone, let’s go,'” she said.

Residents on Henry saw the fire and called 911. At first it was reported that Moore and Coleman might be trapped inside the car, prompting 911 dispatchers to send an ambulance to the scene.

As paramedics were preparing to leave the scene, the white 84 Nissan 300 left the road.

Immediately after the accident, Marvin Wendall Rhodes, the car’s sole occupant, left the vehicle and crossed the road.

Paramedics rushed to him and immediately begin first aid treatment.

“I just panicked,” Rhodes told police.

Rhodes sustained only minor injuries: a one-inch gash and a bruise on the back of his head. Paramedics transported him to Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

According to Officer Crowe, the police officer on the scene, Rhodes looked over at the car fire and when the driver looked up, he was leaving the road.

“He looked up at the car down here (on Henry) and it was burning…he just lost control,” Crowe said. “That’s how most of your officers get killed: People rubbernecking and seeing what’s going on. These here are the main killers of police.”

According to Selma Fire Department Battalion Chief Lee Cook, the cause of the fire was undetermined.

“I’m thinking in terms of electrical,” Cook said. Neither Coleman or Moore were seriously injured, although Moore did bruise her hip while leaving the burning car.