Two other inmates were transferred to an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department patrol car after the crash and taken back to the jail.
All of the injuries were minor and damage was minimal, said Sgt. John Wolffis of the Sheriff’s Department, who policed the scene.
Wolffis said a county corrections officer driving the Sentence Work Abatement Program (S.W.A.P.) van started to pull off School Street and onto westbound Savidge Street at about 1:20 p.m., but stopped due to an approaching eastbound vehicle. The van backed up to allow the car to pass, and the van’s trailer hitch hit the bumper of a Toyota Camry that was stopped behind it on School Street.
Damage to the car was minimal and the driver was not injured, Wolffis said.
The five inmates in the vehicle initially said they were not injured, but four of them later reported injuries and requested an ambulance, Wolffis said.
The corrections officer driving the van notified his superiors of the incident.
Although the incident occurred in the Village of Spring Lake, Wolffis said the Sheriff’s Department handled the case because it involved a Sheriff’s Department vehicle. Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police were notified of the incident, officials said.
A call to acting Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Joe Steinhauer was not returned by press time.
“If this would have been a very serious crash, we would have requested an outside agency,” said Capt. Bob Tease, who is in charge of the Sheriff’s Department’s road patrol. “It is not uncommon — if it’s a very minor accident, we police it ourselves.”
Tease said the crash report would be forwarded to a review panel. Then the sheriff and undersheriff will look at the incident and decide whether or not any additional action will be taken.
The corrections officer driving the vehicle is not suspended, Tease said. The conditions of the inmates taken to the hospital were also unknown, he said.