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Updated article: Police identify 29-year-old Ann Arbor man found outside vehicle in ditch Ann Arbor city workers went to the area in front of Penske Truck Rental on Plymouth Road Thursday morning to replace a fire hydrant.
After finishing that job, they went in search of the old fire hydrant, walking back toward the business and ending up near a heavily wooded ditch next to the building.
They didn’t find any fire hydrants — instead, they found a mangled Hyundai Santa Fe SUV on its side and a body lying on the ground next to it.
Ann Arbor police Sgt. Paul Curtis said police were dispatched to the area at 9:50 a.m. Thursday and found the person on the ground outside the wrecked car.
It’s a mystery at this point how the car got there, but investigators' initial belief is that the vehicle was traveling east on Plymouth Road, left the roadway and somehow ended up in the ditch.
Initial information from police indicated the body was found inside the car.
Curtis said nothing is known about the person who died. The body was unidentifiable and Curtis could not immediately tell the sex of the deceased.
“It had been there for a while,” he said.
Curtis said the car was found between 50 and 70 feet away from the road and 20 to 25 feet away from the Penske building. The reeds and brush next to the building are between 6 and 10 feet tall, blocking any view of the ditch from the windows on the building. Curtis said he couldn’t see the bottom of the building when he was in the ditch investigating.
It’s unknown how long the Santa Fe and the person had been in the ditch. Sgt. Bill Clock is investigating the crash.
It took two tow trucks from Brewer's Towing to pull the Santa Fe out of the brush and reveal its mangled state. The front passenger wheel had been ripped away, leaving only a hubcap dangling at an unnatural angle. The front bumper was gone and much of the engine was exposed.
The windshield was intact, but many of the other windows on the vehicle were either broken or completely gone. It appeared the car had slid on its driver's side. There was a large dent running horizontally all along the driver’s side of the car. Dirt and reeds clogged the areas between the driver’s door and the body of the vehicle, after it was pulled out of the ditch. Neither driver’s side door opened when investigators pulled on the handles.
Curtis said it was nearly impossible to see the vehicle unless someone actually entered the ditch. In order to move it out of the ditch, police had to call the Ann Arbor Forestry Department to cut away many of the reeds and other plants in the area.
There is a concrete retaining wall in the back of the ditch, which is between the building and the entrance to the Parc Pointe Lane Apartments to the east. A fence near where the Santa Fe is presumed to have entered the ditch was damaged.
There were no obvious tire tracks on Plymouth Road or on the grass on the strip of land between the road and the sidewalk.
Ann Arbor police are investigating this incident. Anyone with any information on the crash is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-794-6939 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800 SPEAK UP (773-2287).
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