Crashes force closures

Whiteout conditions contributed to a couple of multi-vehicle pileups on U.S. 31, which took sections of the highway in Muskegon County out of commission on Wednesday.
Becky Vargo
Jan 23, 2014

A Norton Shores police car and a tow truck were part of the first pileup late Wednesday morning on northbound U.S. 31 at the I-96/Seaway Drive interchange in Fruitport Township.

Two semi-trucks and about 14 cars were involved in another pileup early Wednesday afternoon on southbound U.S. 31.

See more photos of the Wild Wednesday on the roads: click here!

Norton Shores Police Chief Dan Shaw said about 11 people were injured in the chain-reaction crashed that closed the highway's southbound lanes, from I-96 to Laketon Avenue, for several hours in the afternoon. He did not know the extent of their injuries. The roadway reopened just before 5 p.m.

Shaw said a Norton Shores police officer was assisting Fruitport Township police with a crash involving about four cars on northbound U.S. 31 late Wednesday morning when another vehicle went out of control and hit his patrol vehicle. The Norton Shores officer had the driver of one of the crashed cars inside his vehicle at the time.

“The officer was not injured,” Shaw said. “The passenger in the back seat had back pain.”

An ambulance took the man to Mercy Hospital in Muskegon.

“Another car behind him hit a tow truck and the tow truck driver,” Shaw said.

The tow truck driver suffered minor injuries. Shaw said he did not know if that driver was taken to a hospital.

Charlotte Gabriel and her son, Toby, were on the Broadway Street overpass, taking pictures of the last vehicle being removed from the pile-up scene.

“I’ve been listening to sirens all day,” said Charlotte, who lives nearby.

Police along the Lakeshore responded to crashes and slide-offs all over the area once heavy snow started falling at about mid-morning.

“It’s been non-stop, but it’s all been in the Norton Shores area,” Sgt. Chris Stevens of the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department said late Wednesday. “They and Fruitport have been getting hammered since this morning."

Stevens said the Sheriff’s Department did not have many crashes to handle.

“The north part of the county has been pretty quiet,” he said.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies handled 54 crashes and slide-offs between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday. Sgt. Steve Austin said the incidents were widespread throughout the county, with only one of them involving injuries.

No one was injured in a multi-car pileup early Wednesday afternoon on the M-104 bridge in Spring Lake. Tammy Spieles said she was on her way to work when her car slid sideways as she started down the hill into Ferrysburg. Her car spun 180 degrees and stopped when it hit the guardrail.

Spieles watched as a series of vehicles started crashing in the other lane behind her.

“I wasn’t even done with 911 before the other people started piling up,” she said.

After the crash, Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police made sure the occupants of the cars were OK before sending them off the roadway to William Ferry Park at the bottom of the hill.

Dillon Groover, Jordan Smant and Eric Klingel gave Spieles’ car a push so she could get turned around.

Klingel said they came over the bridge, saw a couple of vehicles stopped in front of them, but they couldn’t stop.

“It was a sheet of ice,” he said. “Then we saw the taxi coming. We said, ‘OK guys, brace for impact.’”

Lakeshore motorists were having trouble because the snow came down hard and fast, creating whiteout conditions and very slippery roads.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Hoving said Grand Haven received 10 inches of snow by 5 p.m. Wednesday, with a few more inches possible overnight. Fruitport got 11 inches and Norton Shores saw about 8 inches fall by 5 p.m.

Ottawa County is under a winter storm warning until 1 p.m. today.

Hoving said less than an inch of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service office at Ford International Airport as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“Anyone heading west from Grand Rapids to the Lakeshore is in for a rude awakening,” Hoving said Wednesday.

Snow showers were expected to continue today, with the heaviest stuff falling south of Holland, Hoving said.

“We’re not going to get out of this system anytime soon,” he said. “Friday night is going to be a bit nasty, with winds picking up and blowing snow. The snow will be moving out by later Saturday morning, but another system is moving in Sunday with an expected 3-6 inches of snow.”

 

Comments

Wolverine49457

It was a mess for sure but I have to say there was a refreshing absence of jerks on the polished ice that was US31 N. this morning...thanks for the patience folks.

castthefirststone

WHEN THE DRIVING CONDITIONS ARE THE WORST AND CERTAIN DRIVERS HAVE ACCIDENTS AND CAUSE OTHER DRIVERS TO HAVE AND MAKE POOR DECISIONS, THE CAUSES OF THE ACCIDENT ARE THE WORST DRIVERS AND CAUSE THE ACCIDENTS AND SHOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO DRIVE AGAIN, NEVER IN ANY STATE, THEY ARE THE DUMBEST OF THE DUMB, AND THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE, DUMMIES ALL. . . . . THE ACT SHOULD BE A CHARGE OF "VEHICULAR ASSAULT WITH CRIMINAL INTENT" 10 TO 15 YEARS IN PRISON NO PAROLE AND NO VISITATION . . . .SOUND HARD. . .THINK HOW HARD IT IS FOR THE INNOCENT PEOPLE THEY THE DIRT BAG DRIVERS CAUSE THE GOOD DRIVERS. . .GOT IT ? THE CAPS ARE FOR MY 75 YEAR OLD EYESIGHT.

LessThanAmused

"GOT IT ? THE CAPS ARE FOR MY 75 YEAR OLD EYESIGHT".

Buy yourself a magnifying glass or learn how to increase the size of the text on your screen...STOP YELLING, PARTICULARY WHEN YOUR JIBBERISH LACED RANT MAKES NO SENSE NO MATTER HOW LOUD YOU YELL!!!!!!

Learn how to use the tool you're trying to use here!

GOT IT??? GOOD!

Sheesh, anybody make any sense out of that mess?

davewali

I did.
He said that bad drivers cause accidents, and should lose their license. Pretty easy to understand, should you CHOOSE to read the words instead of complain about the CAPS.

LessThanAmused

Wonderful, happy for you. It was kind of a rhetorical question, but I should've known better I guess.

That was jibberish, incomplete sentences, bad grammar, wrong punctuation.....if none of that kind of stuff bothers you than you've got more patience than I do....sainthood is just around the corner.

michiglen

Some drivers should never be on the road during ideal driving conditions let alone the worst of winter.

No matter how cautious you drive, some idiot will overreact to a situation and all of a sudden there is a crisis. Think "domino effect."

There is probably no coincidence that a lot of of big problems happen where there is a simple "merge" situation where feeder roads supply the interstate.

C'mon people. Drive intelligently. If you cannot, stay home.

(or should that be "STAY HOME"!!!!")

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