SUV-car crash in heavy rain kills E. Ind. couple

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BLOUNTSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A heavy downpour created dangerous driving conditions before an SUV hydroplaned into an oncoming car, killing an eastern Indiana couple and injuring five other people, a witness said.

The crash occurred after the SUV passed other vehicles in a no-passing zone on U.S. 35 about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis, witnesses told the (Muncie) Star Press for a report Sunday (http://tspne.ws/1dNWYD6 ).

"It was pouring down rain," said Kathy Charboneau of Ravenna, Neb., whose pickup truck pulling a recreational vehicle was the last vehicle the SUV passed before the crash Saturday. "It was pouring so hard you couldn't hardly see."

The crash killed the driver of the car, Claude Hicks, 48, of Lynn, and his wife, Rhonda Jo Hicks, 52, Henry County Sheriff's Deputy John Guy said.

Three other passengers in Hicks' car -- their son, Joseph Hicks, and his children, a 9-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy -- also were injured and remained hospitalized Sunday in Indianapolis, Guy said.

The driver of the SUV, John Petry, 59, of Kettering, Ohio, was treated and released from Henry County Hospital on Saturday. His wife, Cheryl Petry, 57, remained hospitalized Sunday.

Sheriff Bruce Baker said the crash occurred in a no-passing zone on the winding highway.

"This is a treacherous road," he said.

Baker said the case could become a criminal investigation. He didn't elaborate.

John Petry does not have a published home telephone listing and could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com