Cruiser crash fallout

The police report from Tuesday’s crash involving a Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police car and a minivan will be given to the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office for review, possibly by Friday.
Becky Vargo
May 9, 2013


“We’re not saying anybody’s at fault here,” Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said. “But for something like this, we want to have the prosecutor look at it.”

Sgt. Curt Theune of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department was driving a 2013 squad car when the crash occurred shortly after 4 p.m. at the intersection of Savidge Street and Lake Avenue. The senior officer was responding to a crash between a car and motorcycle that happened a few minutes earlier about a mile west.

Theune was driving west on Savidge with the car's lights and siren activated, DeYoung said.

“Everyone else was stopped because they could hear a siren,” DeYoung said. “For whatever reason, (the minivan driver) did not hear the siren.”

Kara Hamm of Spring Lake was driving her minivan north on Lake Avenue and had the green light. As she approached the intersection, Hamm passed an open parking area and then a commercial building on the corner of Savidge and Lake that would have blocked her view of Savidge Street traffic to her right.

DeYoung said his officer had the right to go through a red light.

“You have to do it with due care and caution,” he added.

A witness to the crash, Michelle Allard, said the police car was going fast, but did slow down as it went around a vehicle at the intersection.

Theune and two of the children in the van suffered minor injuries in the crash.

The police officer was taken by ambulance to North Ottawa Community Hospital, where he was treated and released Tuesday. DeYoung said Theune had no broken bones, but did have some soft tissue injuries and would probably be off work for a week.

Hamm said after the crash that she would take her children to the hospital to be checked. No further information was available on them.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



I sure as heck hope they do not try to ticket or charge the driver of the van with anything. While the officer obviously can run a red light when his lights/sirens are on, legally they must first slow/stop to verify that all other traffic is stopped and not proceed until it is safe to do so. The village and the officer can actually be held accountable for this (there have actually been cases of officers being charged with manslaughter, and cities being sued for millions for the exact same situation).

This is a known dangerous intersection as the building on the southwest corner not only blocks all sight lines to the west, but it also blocks all sound (such as sirens) from the west, and the echo off of other buildings can make the siren sound like it is coming from another direction entirely; a direction that would have looked clear to the driver of the van.

The fact that the officer blew through the intersection without slowing was pure negligence.


I will also add that this intersection needs to have pre-emption installed for emergency vehicles (turns all lights red as emergency vehicle approaches). It baffles me why it does not when it has such poor lines of sight.


So, everyone else heard the siren, but the person involved in the accident did not? Why always blame the police? I bet that your tune would be different if this officer were on the way to help you!


Correct. When you are going north on Lake Ave and an emergency vehicle is traveling west on Savidge, you simply cannot hear the sirens until it is too late. The abandoned building on the corner blocks the line of sight, and sounds. The other directions could easily see and hear the cop car, but the driver of the van simply could not. It is not rocket science.

Even then, it does not absolve the cop. He is still required to slow down or stop until the intersection is determined to be clear and all traffic stopped. He obviously did not since he t-boned the van. Surely it was not intentional, but it is still his responsibility to slow/stop until it is 100% determined to be safe to proceed.


A witness said he slowed down. He exercised due dilligence, while I cannot believe the person hit did not hear the siren OR see the flashing police light.
Too often, I see people who refuse to pull over and stop their cars for emergency vechicles. I am not sure if they do not know the law, or just think they can ignore it.


Based on the pictures in the previous story it looks like the front of the cruiser hit the side of the van. That would indicate to me that the driver of the mini van was under the light at the time the cruiser came through. It's very plausable that she had not heard the siren. Also, The other cars stopped would not of been an indication of an officer on the way since they would of been stopped for the red light.


It was an accident, both probably could have done more but to avoid the situation but they didn't. Who cares? Luckily nobody was hurt, chalk it up to a mistake. Not a big deal.


There is absolutely no indication anyone is considering charges against the van driver. It was indeed an accident where a good intentioned public servant was trying to help a citizen. I cannot expect that someone in a job where he must drive as fast as he reasonably can while using a radio and planning how to best handle an emergency situation in the next minute all at the same time will go 25 years without an accident of some kind. Thankfully there were no serious injuries. This is some pretty tabloid reporting though. The cop was at fault, no major injuries, not much more to the whole thing.


Agreed, especially on the tabloid reporting.


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