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Sunday crash injures Putnam County man

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Putnam County man remains in critical condition at an Indianapolis hospital following a head-on collision that occurred on U.S. 36 near Danville Sunday morning.

Officials with the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department said 28-year-old Daniel S. Hamm, 9 Lincoln Hills Drive, Heritage Lake, was seriously injured just before noon Sunday when his car crossed the center line and struck a westbound motor home about 5 miles east of the Putnam-Hendricks County line.

According to a sheriff's department press release, Hamm's three daughters, Jayde M. Hamm, 5, Plainfield, Alice Anne Hamm, 3, Danville, and Gracie M. Hamm, 1, Danville, were not seriously injured.

The driver of the motor home, listed as Loretta M. Cottle, 63, Avoca, Neb., was taken to Clarian West Hospital in Avon and was treated for minor injuries.

Also treated for minor injuries were Cottle's two passengers, Verna G. Sinkhorn, 58, King City, Mo., and Leota M. Hofeldt, 65, Vancroft, Neb.

Witnesses said Hamm's red 1991 Mercury Topaz crossed the center line, forcing at least one car off the roadway, before slamming into the side of the westbound Fleetwood motor home.

The impact caused the motor home to careen off the road and come to rest in a ditch. The women were said to have climbed out of the vehicle just minutes before it burst into flames and burned to the ground.

Firefighters and medics from several departments in Hendricks County rushed to the scene but could not save the motor home. A column of thick, black smoke rose from the accident and could be seen for several miles.

Hamm had to be extricated from the crumpled car and was taken to nearby Hendricks Regional Health in Danville. He was later airlifted to Methodist Hospital in critical condition.

Traffic that was backed up by the accident, much of which was headed to the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, had to be diverted onto county roads for more than two hours after the accident.

"The primary contributing factor appears to have been driver inattention by Mr. Hamm," Captain Brett Clark, with the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department, said in a press release.

He said results of a standard toxicology test are pending, however, officers do not believe alcohol was involved.

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