BY THE COLUMBUS PACKET
A Columbus man was charged with a felony DUI after he caused a two car accident Sunday morning that left his female passenger with a broken neck. Vernon Phifer, 56, was traveling east on Main Street by the Sandfield One Stop when his 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix sideswiped a 2004 Dodge Intrepid driven by Sherman Henderson of Columbus. Witnesses told officer with the Columbus Police Department that Phifer was traveling upwards of 90 MPH when he struck the Intrepid just as Henderson entered the middle turning lane from MLK Boulevard South. The impact spun Henderson’s vehicle around one-and-a-half times until it finally came to rest just inside the easternmost entrance of the Sandfield One Stop.
After the initial impact, Phifer’s Grand Prix the left the rain-soaked road and immediately struck a large wooden power pole, snapping it at the base. The impact reportedly jarred Phifer’s passenger, Barbara Weston, with such force that it knocked her unconscious. The car continued onto the green space of the Stokes-Beard Elementary property, knocking down two small trees and the MLK street sign in the process. The car continued its wild ride , travelling over 150 feet through the muddy grass before coming to rest just shy of the fenced in playground of the school.
Personnel with Columbus Fire and Rescue and paramedics from Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle arrived on scene and immediately began to use a set of pneumatic pincers in an attempt to free Phifer and Weston from the vehicle. Phifer was removed first, and was immediately argumentative with his rescuers. A strong smell of alcohol emanated from his area as he was placed on a backboard and brought to a waiting ambulance.
Weston was fully entrapped in the passenger seat and it took firefighters nearly ten minutes to free her from the wreckage. Despite both airbags activating in the vehicle, Weston suffered a broken neck in the wreck. Henderson was transported via ambulance to BMH-GT with minor injuries.
Phifer reportedly tested at nearly three times the legal blood alcohol limit allowable by law and was transported to Lowndes County Adult Detention Center after his release from jail. Once investigators learned of the extent of Weston’s injury, Phifer was charged with felony DUI-maiming.