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Three in hospital after truck crash

WINCHESTER -- A man driving on U.S. 11 Monday afternoon took his eyes off the road, causing a collision that sent three people to the hospital, state police said.

Phillip S. Santmier, 61, of Ranchos de Taos, N.M., was charged with following too closely after he slammed his 2007 Dodge pickup into a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire, driven by Jared D. Reif, of Stephens City, trooper K.L. Myers said.

Reif was stopped at a traffic lightat Hood Way, in front of Schenk Foods Co., about 5 p.m. when Santmier crashed into the Pontiac at 35 mph, Myers said.

The back of the Pontiac was crushed nearly to the front seats, and its airbags were deployed. Reif and a passenger were taken to Winchester Medical Center with non life-threatening head and concussion injuries, Myers said.

Reif's car ran into a white 2006 Jeep Commander, which ran into a silver 1997 Ford Escort. The driver of the Jeep, Karen L. Rhodes, 34, of Stephens City, also was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, Myers said.

"[Santmier] took full responsibility," Myers said. "That doesn't happen very often."

Authorities were able to keep traffic flowing around the wreckage while crews worked to remove the cars from the road.

Frederick County fire and rescue companies from Stephens City and Millwood Station responded to the crash.

Daily Staff Report

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