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Speeding factor in two crashes on Mercury

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:26 PM
bvargo@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 231

“Mercury Drive is a safe stretch of roadway, as long as people obey the speed limit and drive attentively," said Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

One of the weekend crashes took the life of 18-year-old Spencer Daniel McGregor. He was driving northwest on Mercury Drive at about 5:15 a.m. Saturday when he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle rolled over and struck a tree.

“The preliminary investigation shows he was driving at a high rate of speed,” Austin said. “The actual speed still has to be calculated.”

The posted speed limit for the entire stretch of Mercury Drive — which runs from the Grand Haven city limits to 144th Avenue — is 45 mph, said Fred Keena, traffic engineer for the Ottawa County Road Commission.

The road is in good condition, having been reconstructed from 2005 to 2007, Keena said.

“There’s no longer any passing zones,” he said. “That keeps vehicles from going excessively fast.”

Keena said he is not aware of any roadway problems where the crashes occurred on Saturday.

“We’ll go out and look at our signing,” he said. “We’ll also check pavement conditions and shoulder conditions.”

Austin said there is nothing in the investigative reports to show any unusual circumstances that could have contributed to either crash on Saturday.

The crash that killed McGregor occurred near Ammeraal Avenue, about a half-mile south of Comstock Street. The second crash, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m., was on the approach to the Millhouse Bayou bridge, just southeast of Bignell Drive.

“The fatal crash was speed related,” Austin said. “The second crash into the guardrail was speed and alcohol related.”

A 43-year-old Robinson Township man was injured in the second crash when his pickup truck went over a guardrail, rolled down an embankment and landed on its wheels in a marshy area next to the Grand River. A North Ottawa Community Hospital spokesperson said the man was treated for his injuries and released.

A passenger in the truck — Tonya Korving, 43, also of Robinson Township — was also treated at the Grand Haven hospital and released, Austin said.

Austin said the man is being charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. His name was not released pending his arraignment later this month.

It was unknown if alcohol was a factor in the crash that killed McGregor, Austin said. Toxicology results are pending.

McGregor’s driver’s license was suspended at the time of his crash, Austin said. Court records indicate that McGregor’s license was suspended for six months, effective Dec. 19, 2012, when he was sentenced in Ottawa County District Court on a charge of use of marijuana.

McGregor also had misdemeanor convictions in 2011 and 2012 for minor in possession of alcohol, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a probation violation.

Police are still investigating the ownership of the vehicle McGregor crashed early Saturday, a 2001 Jeep Cherokee.

The Klaassen Family Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements for McGregor. Grieving friends have been placing flowers at the site of the crash.

Previous fatal crashes in the area:

— In February 2009, a 66-year-old died in a single-vehicle crash, medical related: Mercury/152nd Avenue.

— In August 2009, a 35-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on top of his car: Mercury at Ammeraal.

— In September 2006, an 81-year-old crossed the center line, struck another car head-on: Mercury near 152nd Avenue. Police called it a medical-related crash.

— In November 2005, 15-year-old Michael Herman lost control of a car on an icy, snowy road and hit another car: Mercury/Lake Avenue area. He had a learner's permit.

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