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Hunter finds driver, car, dog after wreck

Posted November 25, 2010

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— The death of a Sanford woman in a single-vehicle wreck in Chatham County Wednesday was discovered by hunters who found the mangled remains of her SUV a day later, according to the state Highway Patrol.

Michelle Petersen, 44, was behind the wheel of her SUV when it ran off N.C. Highway 421, went over a guardrail, traveled down a heavily wooded embankment and landed on railroad tracks below.

Hunters found the SUV Thursday morning, with Petersen and her dog inside. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Hunter comes across fatal wreck Hunters find fatal wreck

Troopers said that the heavy woods made the wrecked SUV difficult to see.

"I traveled this roadway several times in this stretch yesterday and saw no indications" of a wreck, Trooper S.D. Hurley said.

Her dog had a broken leg, but animal control officers expected it to make a full recovery. A family friend picked up the dog, troopers said.

"She's a great dog," Carol Treftz, with Chatham County Animal Control, said. The dog "didn't bite either the firemen or me, and when she's injured like that, that's a good dog."

Petersen, whose family lives in Florida, was on her way to Ohio to visit her boyfriend, troopers said. He called Sanford authorities and reported her missing after she didn't arrive.

Investigators said there are significant skid marks on the pavement where the SUV went over the guardrail, indicating that speed might have been a factor. The exact time of the wreck hasn't been determined.

Anyone who might have witnessed the wreck should call the state Highway Patrol.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • damonmaddox Nov 26, 2010

    I am Rob's sister, I was looking forward to meeting Shelley for the first time on Thanksgiving. When I arrived at my mom's I was told that Shelley should have arrived Tuesday evening. Rob had reported her missing and contacted the state highway patrols in the states she would have traveled. He contacted her boss, who started looking for her near home. Every time Rob called, the SHP had no reports of fatal crashes. Within an hour of arriving at my mom's the call came from Shelley's boss.
    As I said I have never met her, but I could not go to sleep last night thinking about her. She and my brother had plans for his upcoming 40th birthday and she was trying to gather the money to visit her son. Rob told me a lot of nice things about her on Thanksgiving after he received the call. Does anyone else have good memories to share? I think that Rob, her son, and everyone else that loved her would love to hear them.

  • greywolf30 Nov 26, 2010

    where it happened at was not visible from the road at all,to the trooper or anyone else.

  • k9sandQtrs Nov 26, 2010

    Rob - so sorry for your and her family's loss.

  • klear96 Nov 26, 2010

    the dog , "t " is her name , is going to be fine . michelle was a wonderful person is missed terribly ! she was coming to S.E. ohio to spend the holiday with me . and yes , she was very brave in everything she did. no one is at fault iy was a horrible accident and we mourne for our darling shelly.i miss her so. thank you for your prayers. she was right with god.regards......rob

  • dsalter Nov 26, 2010

    The troopers cannot see it all and if there's no skid marks where the vehicle went off the road, how are they to tell? Remember that their vehicles are no higher off the road than the ones anyone else has.

  • 409 Nov 26, 2010

    SHP is not at fault. I guess y'all have to try to blame someone.

    Prayers to the family is what is needed.

  • mshood7 Nov 26, 2010

    Prayers for the family. Glad the little dog is going to be ok.

  • bombayrunner Nov 26, 2010

    Troopers in this state seem to be pretty good about looking for stuff on the roadway. Good thing someone found her. I've known at least 3 other cases where folks crashed and no one knew or heard it happen. So this is not that uncommon. In only one of those cases the family actually told the troopers where they should look and didn't. Those troopers were in some pretty hot water after that (South Carolina, family found parents using private helocopter).

    But it is a pretty sad story. Glad that hunter was around.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 26, 2010

    "Too bad the troopers did not look a little harder." St Ives

    Are you really whining because Troopers didn't find a particular car somewhere between Florida and Ohio that went over a guardrail? I guess a reason to bash doesn't have to be reasonable.

  • rescuefan Nov 26, 2010

    "Quit trying to second guess a tragedy and offer prayers to the family.

    You do realize that they would rather blast the trooper than to offer condolences to the family, right?