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Crash Kills Three Teen-agers, Injures Pro Football Player

October 20, 1988

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ A two-car accident early today killed three teen-agers and seriously injured Detroit Lions defensive end Reggie Rogers, police said.

Rogers, 24, was alone in his vehicle. He suffered a fractured neck, a partially amputated right thumb, an injured right ear and multiple cuts and bruises, said Dr. Robert Aranosian at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital.

″The thumb was badly lacerated at the first joint, but we sewed it up. He won’t lose it,″ Aranosian said.

Rogers will remain hospitalized for at least a week and could be placed in traction to allow the neck to heal, he said.

The accident happened about 1:50 a.m. as Rogers’ Jeep struck the teen- agers’ car in an intersection, Sgt. Cornelius McLaurin said.

Kelly Ess, 18, and his brother, Dale R. Ess, 17, both of Versailles, Mo., were pronounded dead at the scene. Their cousin and the driver of the car, 19- year-old Kenneth J. Willet of Drayton Plains, died today, Aranosian said.

No citations were issued, but the accident is under investigation, McLaurin said. He refused to say whether alcohol was a factor, but said blood-alcohol breath tests were not given.

The Lions took Rogers, of Sacramento, Calif., in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft. Rogers’ brother, former UCLA and Cleveland Browns safety Don Rogers, died in 1986 of a cocaine overdose.

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