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Driver seriously injured in 17 Mile Drive Ferrari crash

By MARY BROWNFIELD

Published: June 19, 2009

A TEXAN smashed his friend’s quarter-million-dollar Ferrari Maranello into a tree in Pebble Beach Friday evening. While the owner, who was riding in the passenger seat, was uninjured, the driver was flown by CALSTAR helicopter to a San Jose trauma center for treatment of major injuries, according to California Highway Patrol public information officer Brian Wiest.

“They were driving southbound on Alva Lane in the Pebble Beach area and were just north of 17 Mile Drive when they approached a curve in the road at what appeared to be an unsafe speed,” he said, describing the accident that occurred just before 6 p.m. June 12. “The driver lost control, and the vehicle ran off the road on the right side and struck a tree on the driver’s side.”

James Crane, founder of one of the nation’s largest freight companies in Houston, Texas, and owner of the 2003 Ferrari 575M Maranello, was riding in the passenger seat and was unharmed, according to Wiest. But the driver, Neil Kelley, also from Houston and CEO of an energy trading firm there, suffered major injuries. Both men are in their 50s.

Firefighters from the nearby Pebble Beach/Cal Fire station used the Jaws of Life to rip the roof off the Ferrari to free Kelley from the wreckage without causing him more harm.

“Especially with a car like that, you can’t pass the driver with possible spinal injuries through the passenger’s side,” Wiest said. “You basically have to cut the roof off and pull the driver out of the top.”

Firefighters summoned a CALSTAR helicopter to fly Kelley to the San Jose Regional Medical Center for treatment of severe injuries, which Wiest could not describe. Although the accident is still under investigation, he confirmed alcohol was not involved.