Father: Crash victim needs prayers

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Mitchell Hamm, 22, of Grand Haven suffered extensive injuries in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver early Saturday morning on I-96 near Coopersville.

The Ferris State University student was on his way to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for a 5 a.m. ride-a-long as part of his internship for his criminal justice studies.

The crash occurred on eastbound I-96, about a mile west of 68th Avenue in Polkton Township. Police said wrong-way driver Michael Johnson of Grand Rapids died in the 4:10 a.m. crash.

Police said they were still investigating where Johnson, 39, entered the highway and whether or not alcohol was involved.

After being extricated from his smashed car, Hamm was airlifted to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he remained in critical condition as of late Monday afternoon.

“When we got there, he was in surgery already,” his father said. “He’s had several surgeries and is facing more.”

Jeff Hamm said it’s a miracle that his son is alive, and a miracle that he doesn’t have head and spine damage.

“He’s been answering doctor’s questions,” the father said. He has also moved his fingers and toes.

The damage was concentrated to the lower part of his body, Jeff Hamm said, and Mitchell “has lots of broken bones and internal injuries.”

The 2010 Grand Haven High School graduate has been working to obtain his dream of being a K-9 officer with a police department, the elder Hamm said. He worked foot patrol at Ferris State and had just a few more things on his list to complete for his internship. Mitchell has one more year of school and planned to go to the police academy after that.

Jeff Hamm said he has no idea how long his son’s plans will have to be put on hold because of the crash.

“It’s going to be a long road,” he said. “But he’s 22 years old and healthy. Young bodies heal.”

When asked what people could do for the family, Hamm said “just prayers.”

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