Nunica woman in critical condition after fiery I-96 crash

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:47 PM

Friends and family are rallying around Luke in her time of need.

"Let's all pray for Heather," asked Daniel Cruz in a post on her Facebook page. "She is fighting for her life."

Luke's boyfriend, Jason Wade, wrote, "My love is in bad shape. She needs love."

The fiery head-on accident happened at about 7:45 p.m. near the 22-mile marker and shut down the interstate for four hours.

A witness and police said the Luke, the driver of a 2005 green Chevrolet Trailblazer, had been driving westbound when she used a restricted emergency turnaround. She then entered the eastbound lanes of I-96, driving west. Several vehicles swerved out of the way to avoid the SUV before it slammed into a Chrysler van, which caught fire.

Luke, who is a packer at Almond Products, was pinned in her SUV for an hour prior to being taken by Aero Med to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. The driver of the van died immediately. His name was William “Big Bill” Alfred Foster, 52, and he was working as a courier for a Grand Rapids bank at the time of the crash.

The driver was apparently following a vehicle towing a boat and could not see the wrong-way driver approach. It appears the vehicle towing the boat pulled over, but Foster had no time to avoid the crash.

His son, Patrick Foster, told friends and family that "as much as it breaks me to say it, around 7:45 last night my old man, William Foster, got in a serious head-on collision with another car and was pronounced dead on scene. Last night, my father was taken from me. I'd wish this pain on nobody. I love you pops... just wish I got one last goodbye... you'll never be forgotten."

Many people expressed their condolences, sharing memories of Foster. They described him as a caring man who went out of his way to put a smile on the faces of those around him.

"I'm so sorry for the family and friends that lost a good man," Dawn Larsen said. "He was one of a kind."

Because the deceased man's body was badly burned, officials waited for positive identification with dental records and for notification of family before releasing his identity Friday afternoon.

Ottawa County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Kempker said the crash remains under investigation and "it is unknown why the vehicle driven by Heather Luke at this time was traveling the wrong way on I-96."

Luke's family is asking for prayers for the young woman. Her sister, Jessica Luke, shared with friends on Facebook that the 32-year-old's lungs are not functioning and her heart is bruised.

"She is still here fighting through this," she wrote. "Please keep praying."

Todd Ensing replied, noting that this is so very hard.

"We knew the guy in the other car as well," he said. "Both he and Heather are beautiful people. This is a tragedy."

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