Flurry of slide offs

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:14 PM

There were about 200 car-crash calls during a 24-hour period on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Mark Jongekrijg, data and radio systems manager for Ottawa County Central Dispatch.

The area was dumped with about 8 inches of snow during that time, with winds blowing and drifting the snow across roadways.

Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said crash calls started coming in at around 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Austin said his department investigated 180 car crashes and slide offs during the period. Nine of those incidents involved injuries, although none of them were serious.

“The majority of the crashes were on our heavily traveled roads — I-96, I-196 and U.S. 31,” Austin said. “However, looking at the others, they were all through the county.”

Shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, a car slid off southbound U.S. 31 north of VanWagoner Road in Spring Lake Township and hit a tree. The driver was not injured.

Less than two hours later, one of the drivers in a two-vehicle crash at Grant Avenue and DeSpelder Street in Grand Haven sought his own treatment for injuries.

Pat Schmidt, the driver of the other car, said she was driving west on Grant when a Honda SUV slid through the stop sign and into her path. Because of a snow-covered, slippery road, Schmidt said she was not able to avoid crashing into the SUV.

Schmidt was not injured. The driver of the other car had a cut on his head, but a child in his car was not hurt.

The National Weather Service said snow is expected to return tonight into Friday, with possible freezing drizzle.

Austin said motorists should drive with extra care during wintry weather.

“Slow, slow, slow down — especially with the rain we received,” he said. “The roadways were iced, then covered by snow.”

Austin said leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the car in front of you — at least eight seconds. Drive with your headlights on during snowing and blowing conditions so other vehicles can see you.

“The majority, if not all crashes, are from drivers driving too fast for the road conditions,” Austin said. “This means you have to drive at a speed that you are able to keep your car under control, given the road conditions, and be able to stop without hitting a vehicle in front of you.”

Recommended for You