Investigation sheds light on crash

(UPDATED with full crash report attachment) Distracted and reckless driving appear to be the primary factors in the March 16 rollover crash that seriously injured five Grand Haven High School girls.
Becky Vargo
May 11, 2012


Michigan State Police finalized its investigative crash report earlier this week and detailed the events that led up to and immediately after the crash.

Among the report findings:

• The driver of the Honda CR-V, Dani Michaels, 16, had been talking on her cell phone with her mother just prior to the 11:30 a.m. crash. Cell phone records indicate that Michaels received a call at 11:25 a.m. In an interview at the hospital, the driver told police she looked down to turn off her phone, and then looked up and saw a vehicle directly in front of her that she thought she was going to hit. She swerved to avoid hitting the vehicle, lost control and went off the road.

• Police found a partially consumed bottle of pomegranate vodka in the back of the Honda. It remained cold to the touch, although it was warm that day. Michaels, the driver of the vehicle, apparently had not consumed any of it as a test showed zero alcohol in her system shortly after the crash. She told police she knew the bottle was in the vehicle, but didn’t know who brought it.

• The roads were dry at the time. The air temperature was 75 degrees and a layer of fog reduced visibility to about a quarter of a mile. Police said the weather was not a factor in the crash.

• Witnesses said Michaels drove at a high rate of speed and the girls in the back seat waved their arms out the window as they drove by the buses full of fellow Grand Haven students who were also on their way to the girls’ basketball semifinal game in East Lansing. One witness said she was in the right lane driving at about 80 mph when the CR-V drove past her. She estimated the girls had to be traveling in excess of 90 mph. Another witness said “the vehicle was driving carelessly for a period of time before the crash occurred. The young girls in the back seat were hanging out the windows yelling at the kids on the buses in the right lane and moving around in the vehicle from side to side.”

A caravan of cars and buses drove eastbound on Interstate 96 that morning, headed to the basketball game. The crash occurred just east of the Lowell exit.

Police at the scene the day of the accident said when the sport utility vehicle went off the road, it turned sideways, hit the end post of a cable guardrail and rolled over multiple times. The CR-V landed on its passenger side in the median just off the westbound lanes.

The three back-seat passengers — Brittney Olds, then 16; Emily Bogner, 16; and Maddie Case, 17 — did not wear seatbelts and the force of the crash threw them from the SUV. Olds landed in a westbound lane of I-96, while Bogner and Case came to rest in the grassy median.

The driver, Michaels, and the front-seat passenger, Hannah DeVecht, 17, wore seatbelts, police said. Michaels crawled out of the vehicle, but DeVecht remained pinned inside until emergency workers freed her from the wreckage.

The girls, all juniors at Grand Haven High School, were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Grand Rapids.

The first emergency personnel on the scene initially thought they had a fatal accident, but later reported that Olds — who later had to be placed into a medically induced coma — was moving and talking.

The report was obtained by the Grand Haven Tribune by a Freedom of Information Act request, and police have forwarded it to the Kent County prosecutor for consideration of charges.

Read the full police report by clicking on the PDF below:




What is the point of this article? No one needs to know this much detail about anything. If you "need" to know about the accident, you should know the girls well enough to ask them yourself. Leave these girls alone, and get your facts straight. -Jesus

Jaques Strapp

Sounds like you can't handle the truth. When did speeding and careless driving become accepted? I guess the police are lying and we should all pull wool over our eyes and pretend this incident never happened. Every student at GHHS and SLHS should read these reports and learn something. Perhaps it will prevent a future tragedy.


You make a good point about the possible learning experience. This is a tragedy. Hopefully the details can help to educate others. It is all very sad. Hopefully some how some good can come out of it.


I can't take the truth? I know 4 of these girls better than almost anyone and I know just about every single detail you can imagine along with the emotional details about this whole thing. I'm not saying all of this is false but some is and a lot has been left out, leaving holes that cause readers to jump to conclusion. Who are you to decide who gets to read about these girls personal problems & events.


It certainly a hard situation. I wish the best for these young women. Both them and their family and friends have been through a lot. If there really is misinformation out there, it would probably be good if someone could clear it up. If you know of information that is not factual, it may make sense to let people know that that information is. Even if you do not feel comfortable giving new information maybe you could at least communicate what is false.

It is terrible that people are spreading false information or leaving holes that cause people to fill in the blanks with misinformation.

Thanks for speaking out on this issue. It is interesting when a community goes through this type of thing. There is often a feeling among the community of a right to know. While there may be some right to know, that must also be balanced with the fact that these are real people who have been truly impacted in a life changing way.

Jaques Strapp

If there is something missing then reveal the details. To an outsider, it certainly seems like you are living in denial that something like this could happen.


This isn't my story to tell. I'm just saying that not everything you read on the Internet is the truth.


I noticed by the previous comments that there was a notation about needing to get the facts straight. Are there errors in the police report or in reporting of this article? If so, that is a shame. You are right that erroneous reporting on a sensitive topic like this is problematic. I just hope and pray for a full recovery of all involved. No matter what the details, this is a sad situation.


After reading the full accident report, I noticed the time of accident at 11:31AM and the bottle of open vodka found in the car. With a crash of this magnitude and according to this report, I wonder why the
PBT breath test was not administered on the driver of the vehicle until 2:00PM (2 1/2 hours 'after' the incident).???


Maybe because all of the girls were suffering injuries and at the time the cause of the accident was at the back of everyone's mind while they were helping some of these girls cling to life.


your user name is blasphemous and it pisses me off


your opinion is irrelevant and it's incredibly arrogant to write about your self views that don't relate to this article in any way.


well ghmommy, maybe because my sister was dying? seems alcohol is the last thing that matters in all of this. I think it's pretty damn sad this town doesn't have anything else to talk about. and if you're so concerned with other kids drinking, you're extremely naive when it comes to your own children. and if they don't drink at 17, they aren't normal.


my comment does not dismiss my concern for the girls' well being or prayers for the familiy, merely an observation, that 'possibly' the bac of the driver wouldn't have been zero if administered earlier. this in no way undermines the priority of medical care to those involved. God bless your sister.


I didn't drink when I was 17, and I rarely drink at 24. I think I am very normal. You don't have to drink, smoke, etc. to be "normal".


Why is it sad that our town is talking about this? I believe everyone in this town that pays any attention to the news, was affected by this accident. Obviously, not the same as you and the families of these young girls, by any means. But we all worried and hoped for the best for each of them.If I remember correctly, a can drive was held in April, and the community came together and raised $2521.00 for the families of these girls. How do you think some of us heard about the fundraiser? I heard via word of mouth, because "this town doesn't have anything else to talk about." There is over 5,000 individuals on the Prayers For 5 Grand Haven High school Girls Facebook page. Many of which read every update about the girls, and then expressed their well wishes and prayers. In fact, I check every day for an update, I let my friends and family know how the girls are doing based on these updates. You may think it is "pretty damn sad" that I don't have anything better to talk about, but being an older sister of a 17 and 16 year old teen girl, it hit home and I would like them to learn from this tragedy. Even though I know none of the girls personally, they are part of the community I live in, and I wanted them all to be okay. As a small community, something like this will affect everyone within the town. People will talk, people will want answers as well. It is to be expected. I hope all the girls a full recovery and best wishes to their families, AND the community that was affected by this tragedy.


Well said.


Thoughts and prayers out to your family. Having said that, your statement that if kids don't drink at 17 they aren't normal is not true. I think many teenagers believe that drinking makes a person "cool," and that if someone doesn't drink he/she is not "cool." I have a cousin who was killed by a teenage drunk driver. Believe me, that driver was not "cool." There are many families who have problems with alcoholism, and the problems associated with that are not "cool". There is nothing "cool" about getting drunk and losing control of yourself, in fact, it makes a person laughable, and not in a funny way. I am not against drinking alcohol, but a teenager who drinks is breaking the law. Perhaps a better way of stating the issue is to say that if a teenager doesn't drink he/she is wise beyond their years, and to be RESPECTED for not caving in to the peer pressure to be what you call "normal."


this article is a complete violation of our family's privacy. while we are very grateful to live in sure a supportive community and thank you for your thoughts and prayers, we ask that you keep your opinions on the matter to yourselves. alcohol had nothing to do with the cause of this accident. It's easy to judge when you are so far removed from the situation, different when you live with it every day.


So let's get this straight, your family's privacy was violated? The public has a right to these kind of things, it is called the "freedom of information act." Lets get real.


The police will normally subpoena the hospital blood draw/test done when the driver was first admitted to the hospital, to determine the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Even though a PBT (Preliminary Breath Test) was done hours later, the blood draw will be the legal and most accurate test result and used to determine whether alcohol was in the blood at the time of the draw. (PBT results are inadmissable in Criminal proceedings).
Results can then be extrapilated by using the elimation rate of .015% per hour.
The report does not indicate whether blood test results were subpoened.
The prosecutor may ask the police for these results if the police neglected to subpoena them.


this whole deal was months ago and im not gonna feel bad for peoples own stupidity




@ ghmommy and whomever feels the driver could have possibly been drinking because the test was not administered to the speed of your liking... absolutely ridiculous. What you are trying to say is that you would have liked to see a police officer administer a test as the driver was crawling out of the debris, matted with mud, splintered with glass, managing broken bones, and absolutely terrified? or maybe as she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where EMTs were struggling to make sure she was okay and as she was terrified of how her friends were doing? Or maybe when she was safely to the hospital and found to have no life threatening injuries? OH WAIT that's when the test was given. The social workers and other hospital personnel wanted to get rid of the police, because they did not meet protocol before speaking with the victim, but the driver said, "no, no, it's okay, test me" because she knew she had not been drinking. Think of your own children please, and how you would want them to be treated and respected. I will not stand to hear anyone say they would want police work administered to their children before hospital work, that will never be true.


I didn't get the impression that ghmommy or anyone else was suggesting that the driver was drinking. She wondered why the test wasn't administered any sooner than it was, and it's a good question. Granted, medical procedures come first, but the importance of the police work cannot be overstated. If the driver wasn't drinking (and it sounds like she wasn't), there was nothing to worry about, but if the driver had been drinking, it needs to be addressed. This is not a video game where bad things happen and people get up and walk away. This was a serious incident where many people's lives (including beyond immediate family members) have been affected. If this was truly an accident, that's one thing, but if this happened as a result of someone breaking the law, it is quite another, The only way the police are going to find out is if they do their job,


In additon, I would like to say that if I had a child in this situation I would EXPECT the police to find out as much as possible about the cause of the accident. Again, not before the medical stuff is addressed, but as soon as possible.


This is a sad sutuation. We as a community need to get these kids off the damn cell phones!! We need to get a law into effect that prohibits them from talking, texting or surfing while drivivg!! We need to look out for our young people, people!!


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