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2/03 Munising man perishes in three-sled crash
By JACK STOREY/The Evening News

SAULT STE. MARIE -- A collision in the exit from the north turn of the I-500 resulted in the death of a Munising race driver just 40 laps into the 500-mile endurance race.

According to witnesses, driver Michael J. Kolbus Jr., 31, of Munising parted ways with his snow machine coming out of the often-treacherous north turn and was struck by one or more following sleds.

Brimley driver Russ Chartrand was reportedly admitted to War Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and observation. Chartrand's sled was in the same turn when the accident occurred.

Also injured in the same collision was Sault Ste. Marie driver Eric Fountain. Fountain was treated and released at War Memorial. He did not return to the race.

Sault Ste. Marie city police released few details beyond confirming the identity of the dead driver on Saturday. Police Capt. Tony Lightfoot said city police were still assembling their report on the collision and declined comment on the nature or extent of the injuries to Chartrand and Fountain.

Police did, however, confirm that Kolbus was pronounced dead at War Memorial at 12:03 p.m. -- about one hour after the collision.

Four ambulances at the track for the race responded to the collision. Witnesses indicated that ambulance personnel applied first aid techniques to Kolbus as he lay motionless on the ice track.

The collision occurred just 54 minutes into the 500-mile race after a number of caution laps resulted in the bunching of racing machines making circuits of the track. Most of the starting field was still in the race when the collision occurred.

Kolbus' father, Mike Kolbus Sr. and brother, Derek Kolbus were listed as alternate drivers on the Kolbus Racing team. Both were at the track when the fatal accident occurred.

I-500 officials held up resumption of the race for two hours after the fatal collision, and decided later in the day to run the race to its full 500-mile length. The race concluded about 9:15 p.m.

Kolbus' death was the second involving an I-500 driver in the 35-year history of the race.

As I did not know him but I have a few friends of mine that did, Are thoughts and prayers are with his family & friends.[:(]
 

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That's a shame.Condolences to the family
 
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