Man thrown from car, killed in early morning rollover

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A man was killed when his vehicle rolled after hitting a mailbox and a tree stump Wednesday morning.

It happened in the neighborhood of 47th Avenue and Tierra Buena Lane, which is north of Greenway Road.

Video showed the mangled Mazda on its roof, debris scattered all over the road.

Benjamin Caleb Smith, 28, was thrown from the four-door car when it rolled. Police found him lying in the road when they arrived. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to police, the car was eastbound on Tierra Buena Lane from 47th Avenue when Smith apparently lost control.

The vehicle slammed into a mailbox that was cemented into the ground and hit tree stump in front of a home. Investigators believe the stump caused the car to roll over. Smith was ejected from the vehicle.

At this point, police do not know what caused Smith to lose control. It's not clear if speed was a factor in the wreck.

According to Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department, some residents told investigators that they heard a loud bang between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

"It was very quick. No one had come out to really take a look at what had happened," Holmes said.

Because of that, police and paramedics were not called until after 4 a.m.

Holmes said there were no immediate signs of impairment, but it will be up to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office to run the necessary tests and make that determination.

It's not clear if Smith was wearing a seat belt, but Holmes said that based on the severity of the crash, a seat belt might not have saved him.

"When you look at the impact of this collision, we don't know even if seat belts might have made a difference or not," he explained.

Holmes said it's essential that investigators figure out where the victim was and what he was doing in the hours leading up to the deadly crash.

"What happened prior is going to tell a lot," he said. "What he was doing before he arrived here should tell us a lot about his condition, what was going on with him, and should help us to solve this mystery. At least we hope so."