Fiery, fatal crash in Shelby County Sunday evening


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Two people were killed, another was injured during a fiery crash between an SUV and a semi Sunday afternoon, in Shelby County. The Iowa State Patrol says a 1998 GMC Envoy driven by 63-year old John Veral Smith, of Portsmouth, was pulling a boat on a trailer west along Highway 44 at around 4:35-p.m., one-mile east of Portsmouth, at the same time a 2011 International semi driven by 64-year old Dennis Johnson, of Luverne, MN, was traveling east.

The SUV crossed the center line of the road and into the eastbound lane as it was rounding a curve. Johnson saw the SUV approaching and tried to avoid the collision by braking and steering toward the south ditch, but the semi and SUV collided head-on. Both vehicles were then engulfed by fire. Both drivers, and a passenger in the GMC, 68-year old Mary Louise Smith, of Portsmouth, were transported by Medivac Ambulance to Myrtue Hospital in Harlan, where the drivers of the vehicles where pronounced dead. The Patrol says all three of the crash victims were wearing their seatbelts.

The crash resulted in a stretch of Highway 44 from Highway 191 to Shelby County Road M-16, being closed for more than five-hours Sunday, while the accident was investigated, and the wreckage cleared from the scene.