Hundreds of crashes, slide-offs

Blowing snow contributed to a number of slide-offs and crashes, including 134 handled by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department between 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Monday, officials said.
Becky Vargo
Jan 7, 2014

One of those was a rollover crash off northbound U.S. 31 just south of Fillmore Street at about 3:30 p.m. Monday.

A Wisconsin man, who declined to be identified, said he traveled with traffic at about 45 mph when he went into a ditch.

“I was driving in my lane. I was sideways in my lane, then I was going slow down the hill,” he said.

The man was not injured.

He stood alongside the road with a deputy while a tow truck operator pulled the damaged car from the ditch.

Deputy Mark Busse observed the vehicle was yet another SUV.

“People seem to have a false sense of security when it comes to driving one of those,” Busse said.

He said there were a lot of slide-offs along U.S. 31, noted that he policed several incidents throughout the county.

Earlier in the day, a semi-truck pushed a car off the road in Grand Haven.

Whiteout conditions existed when Gary Ziegler of Rockford said the semi moved over, caught the back of his car and pushed him into a snow bank on the northeast corner of U.S. 31 and Jackson Street at about 10:30 a.m.

Ziegler was uninjured, and the vehicles were quickly removed from the scene.

Capt. Lee Hoeksma of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department advised motorists to stay off of the roads if possible, and only travel as needed.

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



People need to freaking slow down and drive properly for conditions. They should also be teaching how to recover from understeer/oversteer/slides in drivers training.

I have noticed many people just blowing past me doing the speed limit or higher, or tailgating me out in this weather. It is not hard to drive at all in this weather if you just understand the physics behind how your car will behave and adjust your driving habits accordingly.

I am terrified when I go out in this weather, but not because of my own driving (I used to do competitive road racing as well as dirt rally racing in my teens through mid-20's), but because seemingly everyone else out there drives like a freaking nut job that thinks their car magically handles like it is on rails in this weather.

Say no to new taxes

It's actually funny that former race car drivers make the safest street car drivers, but it's true. Speeding on a race track with other professionals is pretty safe, everyone is going the same direction with intense concentration. No one is texting or trying to post something on Facebook, or eating lunch or applying makeup while going 55 mph in inclement weather.

Former Grandhavenite

I've always been an advocate of the idea that everyone driving in ice and snow-prone areas should spend some time in an empty, icy parking lot doing doughnuts, drifting across the ice, and deliberately making their vehicle slide around so they can practice regaining control and recovering. I did plenty of "practice maneuvers" as a teenager, and they've helped me avoid some potential accidents and other bad situations in actual icy driving conditions. It was also a blast to practice!


Agree 100%! I too used to do a little auto racing and when I'm out in this type of weather I equate it to dirt track racing, where being able to control your car while going sideways is a good thing. I still practice to keep the chops sharp.

I've said several times on here about my desire to start a "phase II" drivers training biz....this weather and the current road conditions are exactly the type that's needed for extended training. Anybody can drive a car on dry, clear, flat roads, but most of the time roads aren't at least one of those three things. If you want to be a good, safe driver you need to be able to negotiate the bad conditions, knowing both your and your vehicles limitations. If you don't know those two things then you're just an accident waiting to happen.

All my kids received dad's training classes and didn't get to drive anything until they passed to my satisfaction. I find it quite amusing when my daughter comes home and complains about all the people out there who don't have a clue how to handle their vehicles because I still recall her complaining about having to run my gauntlet before getting to drive. Now she understands what she didn't then.

I know my "classes" work... My other daughter, who's in the Army and among other things drives semi's around, told me that they had a truck rodeo and she finished in 2nd place out of about 30 contestants, as the only girl. She was laughing while telling me about how the guys wanted to know how she learned to drive like that.

Enough kid bragging.....people who can't drive in these conditions, or who are afraid to drive in these conditions, need to either learn how to, or stay home until the roads are clean and dry. You're putting not only your own safety at risk, but all those around you too......


Well said... It was quite scary when I went out today; everybody was driving like it was sunny and 70 degrees.

By the way, I'm SM. I decided to retire that user name and start fresh for the new year. Deleted social media accounts, while setting up a LinkedIn account ( ), and just took the first step in the process of forming a custom bicycle business; while I am sure it will be extremely slow for the foreseeable future, I am going into it with the intention of it being a cottage (or hobby) industry on the side that maybe someday I can grow into something larger.

So here is to a new year, and a new start.


I thought it read like you! I wish you all the best, jlb...hang in there; you have some great ideas, are resourceful, and have a positive attitude. It won't be long now.


New Year, new you. Glad to read you are getting into something you are so passionate about. Hope it works out well for you.


Aha, I thought that name rang a bell. Good to hear that you're ramping up the proactiveness. keep plugging away and sooner or later the giant wheel in the sky will turn in your direction.

The bike deal sounds like it could work out good. Doing something you love to do is never a bad idea, even if it's not easy. Like you said it'll be slow going to start, but back in the 70's when I bought my Grand Jubilee from Breakaway they were working out of an old house so it can be done. I'm sure I'll never be able to afford a 3 grand bike, but if you ever need an old fart to test ride bikes, let me know! :-D


Here are some photos of the new bike for you... They don't even come close to doing it justice. Hopefully the sun comes out soon so I can get some nice outdoor shots of it. It looks quite bland in these photos, but it looks really nice under proper lighting, especially the fenders; they have so much depth to them.

BTW, ignore the messy floor. Took down the tree earlier tonight and haven't vacuumed yet.


Very cool about your Army daughter - sounds like fun.


Sometime I'll have to tell you about her lesson in learning how to back up. I still get grief about that one. :-)


I bet you were a trip of a dad! Would love to hear your stories. My father taught me as well. Such good memories of my normally easy-going dad who rarely raised his voice, going hoarse while he taught me on a stick shift, on very hilly roads, in winters that got an average of 120" of snow; me crying, and threatening to jump out of the car mid-way up a hill after stalling get the drift. Not either of our finest hours. My kids were mercifully calm, cool, and collected.


Just ventured out in the snow... I can say, without a doubt, that almost all of these accidents were caused by people driving recklessly.

Just between the drawbridge, and Robbins Road, I was tailgated by many drivers the entire way (I was doing 30mph), many people laying on their horns, and being passed by many drivers who don't understand just how slippery it is.

On my way home, I went down back roads; same deal. People tailgating, speeding, zipping up to stop signs slamming on the brakes expecting their cars to stop on a dime, and flying around corners. Another fun thing I noticed was people gunning it at stop signs and lights, endlessly spinning their wheels at high rates of speed to try to get moving; if these people would just be very easy on the gas, their tires wouldn't spin (possibly damaging the drivetrain/wearing out their tires), and they would actually get across the intersection much faster.


True that.

One thing that drives me nuts are the snowplows going over the same stretch of road, over and over again until they've got it polished.

I had to go to Home Despot this morning for repair parts and driving there and back home again I could see the reflections of the headlights of cars coming at me (the ones smart enough to use their headlights...) on the polished, icy pavement. When it looks like that out there it doesn't matter if you've got a big SUV, a VW, 2-wheel, or 4-wheel drive. If you start sliding it's pretty much like going over Niagra Falls in a don't stop until you hit something.
I'd much prefer they leave a couple inches of snow on the road surface so I have some way to get some traction.


Yeah, it was so slick that the stability control in my car didnt even have a clue I was sliding sideways. Normally it (sometimes annoyingly) corrects a minor slide, this today it did not kick in once.

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