Crash on 31 at Buchanan

(UPDATED Thursday 12:45 p.m.) A Grand Haven-area woman suffered serious injuries in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 31 at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Becky Vargo
May 22, 2014


The crash occurred in the highway's northbound lanes, near Buchanan Street and the Admiral gas station.

Police said 63-year-old Jackie Bates of Grand Haven Township pulled her 2007 Subaru Forester out of the Admiral gas station into highway traffic and in front of a 2002 GMC Envoy. The Forester was broadsided in the driver's side door by the northbound Envoy and both vehicles ended up in the highway’s median.

Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said Bates had stopped before proceeding, but might have thought the way was clear when a car in the right lane turned into the gas station.

Austin said Bates was attempting to cross the highway to gain access to the southbound lanes.

A tow truck was used to pull the Envoy away from the Subaru so that emergency personnel could gain better access to the driver.

Bates was taken to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids by the Aeromed medical helicopter, which used the highway's southbound lanes for a landing zone, closing the lanes to traffic at the time.

Austin said Bates was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but she was conscious and alert at the crash scene.

The other driver — Jane Novak, 32, also of Grand Haven Township — was taken to North Ottawa Community Hospital by ambulance. Police said she had minor injuries.

One lane of traffic was open in both directions until the Aeromed helicopter landed. Both the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway were closed until the helicopter lifted off at about 6:20 p.m.

Police said both women were wearing seat belts and that they were the only occupants of their vehicles.

The crash remains under investigation.


Jacke Bates was listed in serious condition early Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Jane Novak was treated and released from North Ottawa Community Hospital Wednesday evening.




MDOT has spent $Millions in the last several years putting indirect Left Turn lanes all along US-31 between Holland & Grand Haven.
One of the latest ones was at Warner Street just north of this crash site, and Buchanan, just south of this site.
Yet, they allow and leave these kinds of business access crossings with in 50 yards of their new crossings. This particular one has a minimal deceleration lane for the south bound people turning into the gas station, which leaves you slowing down hanging out in the left lane of the highway.
I asked many times what was the need for these lanes at minimally travelled crossings like Warner, when they are leaving untouched crossings for the gas station that see 100X the traffic use.
Their response was we have "safety money" to spend! No trafffic studies were conducted, and no accident investigations were used to justify spending the money to implement these indirect left turns.
The money should have been spent at high traffic areas such as this and Ferris St. crossing where there are crashes all the time.
But then a moments inattention will negate all the safety features of the road and the vehicle!


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