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Car explosion injures head of medical board

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (AP) -- The chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board was critically injured Wednesday when his car exploded as he was leaving home for work, an attorney said.

Trent P. Pierce was taken to Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., where he was listed in critical condition, hospital spokeswoman Sandy Snell said.

Neighbor Julanne Ingram said the explosion happened around 8 a.m.

"It was a huge explosion. It rattled the windows in this house," she said.

William Trice, an attorney for the medical board, said he knew of no heated disputes involving Pierce and said as chairman, Pierce often doesn't take part in board votes.

"This is just off the wall," Trice said. "It's just such bizarre circumstances."

The board oversees the practice of medicine in Arkansas and can discipline doctors for wrongdoing, including revoking their medical licenses.

Police blocked off the street outside Pierce's home, and officers walked back and forth with dogs. Investigators from the Arkansas State Police bomb squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could also be seen.

ATF agents did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

West Memphis Police Chief Robert Paudert said he planned to meet with ATF agents. He did not elaborate.

Trice said he believed Pierce drives a hybrid, but said he had no information on what might have caused the explosion.

Pierce, who is in his 50s, was expected to attend board subcommittee meetings Wednesday in Little Rock.

He was appointed to the board in January 1997 and reappointed in 2005 by former Gov. Mike Huckabee.