Michael J. Phipps – Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

From a contemporary news report: 27 October 2004

Man killed on I-35 was Naval surgeon

More is now known about the man who was killed while walking on I-35 in Forest Lake in the early-morning hours of October 16, 2004.

But circumstances that may have led to the death of Michael J. Phipps, 37, of Kensington, Maryland, remain clouded. The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the case and has released little new information.

Phipps, a Lieutenant Commander and surgeon at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, was killed at 1:58 a.m. October 16,2004, when he was struck by a southbound car on I-35 just south of I-35 Rest Stop here.

No charges have been filed against the St. Paul, Minnesota, man whose vehicle struck and killed Phipps.

According to the State Patrol, the incident followed a night of drinking at VFW Post 4210 in Forest Lake and an argument with a friend. The investigation has yet to determine how or why Phipps ended up walking in the freeway some two miles from the VFW on the morning of his death.

Phipps was found with no wallet or identification. His body was not identified until later on Saturday when a friend called police in Forest Lake wishing to file a missing person’s report. Police here said Phipps was registered for the night at a motel in Forest Lake.

The Maryland man reportedly had come to Minnesota for the weekend to see friends, police said.

Phipps served in the Navy’s Medical Corps and was head of the Spine Service Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

According to obituary information, Phipps was born on July 7, 1967, in Carbondale, Illinois, and grew up in Steubenville, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio State University and earned his medical degree from Ohio State in 1993.

After completing flight training in Pensacola, Florida, he served as Flight Surgeon at Cherry Point Naval Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, supporting the 2nd Marine Air Wing. He completed his Orthopedic Surgery Residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and a fellowship in comprehensive spinal surgery at the Twin Cities Spine Center in Minneapolis.

He also served aboard the USNS Comfort, treating casualties of the Iraq War.

He is survived by his wife, Andrea Phipps, and two daughters, Kara and Meghan Phipps, all of Gaithersburg, Maryland; his parents, Michael and Margaret Phipps, Sunset Beach, North Carolina; a sister, Kathryn Phipps Congrove (Douglas) of Columbus, Ohio; three brothers, Dr. William R. Phipps of Youngstown, Ohio, James A. Phipps (Jennifer) of Columbus and Thomas A. Phipps (Christina) of Colonia, New Jersey.

A Funeral Mass was Saturday, October 23, 2004, at St. Peters Catholic Church in Steubenville. Full military honors and memorial service will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, at a later time.

18 October 2004

Pedestrian struck, killed on I-35 near Forest Lake

Just why a man from Maryland was walking in the middle of I-35 early Saturday morning is something police may never know.

But authorities do know that Michael J. Phipps, 37, of Kensington, Maryland, is dead. The Maryland man was struck and killed by a southbound car in the right lane of I-35 a half mile north of TH-97. The incident was reported at 1:58 a.m.

What authorities do know is that Phipps had come to Minnesota for the weekend and was partying with friends from Minneapolis in Forest Lake on Friday night. According to Lieutenant Matt Sokol of the East Metro Minnesota State Patrol, Phipps argued with friends at VFW Post 4210 in Forest Lake over where to spend the night.

“We assumed he walked there,” Sokol said of how Phipps may have reached the spot on I-35 where he was struck and killed. “There was no vehicle (parked) in the area.”

Phipps had no identification on his person.

According to police reports, several motorists reportedly called 9-1-1 after coming close to hitting a man walking in the roadway. Phipps died when he was hit by a southbound vehicle driven by Jimmie Hampton, 59, of St. Paul, Mionnesota.

Phipps was not identified until later in the day on Saturday when his friends filed a missing person’s report.

The friends told police Phipps was last seen at the VFW where there was an argument over the group staying at a motel in Forest Lake on Friday, night, Sokol said.

Sokol said alcohol was likely a factor in the man’s death. Officials are awaiting results of a blood-alcohol test on Phipps.

According to a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety the crash took place in Forest Lake and Washington County.

The State Patrol was assisted at the scene by officers from the Forest Lake Police Department and county deputies from the Washington and Anoka sheriff’s departments.

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