Crash on 31 at Ferris

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:22 AM

Mary Baars, 26, of Grand Haven Township was driving north in her 2002 Mercury Sable when she hit the back of a 2011 Freightliner truck stopped at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ferris Street about 2:40 p.m., according to Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Baars was pinned in her vehicle by her hand, Austin said. She was alert and talking at the scene.

After being extricated from her crushed car, Baars was taken to North Ottawa Community Hospital by ambulance. She appeared to have suffered only a possible broken arm, Austin said.

Hospital officials said this morning that Baars was treated for her injuries and released.

Emergency personnel who arrived first at the scene put the AeroMed ambulance helicopter on standby, then canceled it when they decided to transport her to the Grand Haven hospital.

The driver of the truck, Rick Bekins of Grand Rapids, said he was just taking off after the traffic light turned green when the car slammed into the back of his truck.

“She hit me at full speed,” he said. “It knocked my glasses off.”

Bekins, who was not injured, said he ran back to see what had happened and the driver started talking to him. “Praise God,” he said.

“She asked me to call her mother and have her meet her at the hospital,” Bekins added.

Grand Haven Township firefighters who responded to the scene from their nearby station used a hydraulic ram to push back part of the damaged car so they could free the driver, said Fire Chief Tom Gerencer. Dick’s Towing used one of their large trucks to lift the truck off the car.

Austin said the car had slid about 6-8 feet under the truck. He said the forward motion of the truck, as well as the low lift gate at the back of the truck, probably contributed to saving the woman’s life.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts and alcohol was not a factor in the accident, Austin said. Baars was ticketed for careless driving — a $180 fine, Austin said.

Northbound traffic on U.S. 31 was stopped for an hour while the incident was handled. The road was reopened at 3:40 p.m.

A similar accident last week at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Port Sheldon Street in Port Sheldon Township took a Muskegon man’s life.

To see more photos, click here.

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