Family days in the park were the “big special thing” for Alan and Andrea Chase of Ferrysburg and their four children.
“Whenever we could get all six of us together, we would have a day at the park,” Andrea reminisced.
One person will now be missing from those outings.
Alan Chase, 38, died early Wednesday morning when his semitrailer truck crossed a highway median near South Haven and hit another semi head-on.
“Everything was normal the night before,” Andrea said.
Alan got up early and was out the door by 4 a.m., she said. He drove to Holland where he worked for Teddy’s Transport. He picked up his truck and load, and started on his daily trip to Chicago.
Andrea said they still don’t know what happened.
“We don’t have any answers yet. We’re waiting on the investigation” and autopsy, she said.
Alan was driving his rig south on I-196 in Allegan County’s Casco Township, just north of South Haven. Michigan State Police said at 5:55 a.m., "for unknown reasons," the truck crossed the median and struck a northbound semi.
Alan was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
The driver of the other truck, an Indiana man, and his wife suffered minor injuries in the crash. An ambulance transported them to South Haven Hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.
Helen Zeerip, owner of Teddy’s Transport, said the crash and Alan's death came as a shock.
“He was an excellent employee — always willing to do anything you asked, always with a smile,” Zeerip said.
Alan had been driving for the Holland transport company for two years.
“He was a good driver,” Zeerip said. “Not once did he ever bump or scratch anything. He had a perfect driving record with us.”
Alan was driving a 2013 Volvo with a small load of belts and truck parts, Zeerip said.
“It was a brand new truck, but it was his truck and he drove it every day,” she said.
Zeerip said a state police inspection following the crash verified that there were no mechanical errors with any of the equipment.
“There was no violations of either the equipment or hours of service,” she said.
This is the first fatality in the company’s nearly 31-year history.
“He is going to be a loss,” Zeerip said. “The guys really counted on him.”
“He was a great person,” Andrea Chase said through tears Thursday morning. “He was loved by a lot of people — a good family man, a good provider. ... He was my best friend."
The couple married 16 years ago after meeting in Florida, Andrea said. Alan was originally from New Hampshire. She said they moved to Spring Lake “just on a whim” 10 years ago.
“We had friends here,” Andrea explained. “It’s a good place to raise kids.”
Alan loved to fish and hunt, she noted.
“But most of all, people should know how much he loved his family,” she said. “And what a hard worker he was to make sure we never did without.”
Andrea said their children — ages 17, 13, 9 and 5 — would say Alan was a good father, and they will miss him.
One of the things Andrea said she will especially miss is their weekend morning coffee on the deck of their Ferrysburg home.
“That was kind of our thing,” she said.
Visitation at Spring Lake Wesleyan Church is set for 4-6 p.m. Sunday. The funeral is planned for noon Monday at the church.
School and church officials are working with the family to make sure all of their needs are being met, said Kate Augustyn, crisis coordinator for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, where three of the four children are enrolled.
Teddy’s Transport is accepting donations on behalf of the family and plans to hold a fundraiser in the future. Alan did not have life insurance, Zeerip explained.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can make a check out to Andrea Chase and send it to Teddy’s Transport, 4201 Lincoln Road, Holland, MI 49423.