Local News

Hunter finds driver, car, dog after wreck

Posted November 25, 2010 3:57 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2010 9:26 p.m. EST

— 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.

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.