Madison HeightsFebruary 25, 2013
Car stops on freeway, flipping truck
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
A semi-truck collided with a stopped vehicle on eastbound Interstate 696 near Couzens Avenue in Madison Heights early in the morning Feb. 25, flipping over on its side. No one was killed or critically injured in the crash.
The incident, which occurred around 6:10 a.m. that Monday morning, is under investigation by the Michigan State Police, who are trying to determine why the first vehicle stopped where it did.
The car, a Ford Mustang, was stopped for unknown reasons in the right lane leading to the exit ramp. Traffic was starting to pick up, on the cusp of rush hour.
The driver of the semi-truck, which was carrying automobile parts, told police he didn’t see the stopped vehicle until the last moment, at which point he did a hard turn, trying to avoid hitting the Mustang, instead going over the back end of the car and turning over the embankment, landing on the truck’s right side.
“Both vehicles received major damage,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw. “Both drivers actually had to be removed from their vehicles with assistance from the Fire Department. Their seat belts definitely saved both of them.”
Miraculously, the drivers sustained only mild injuries — nothing life-threatening. Both victims were transported to Beaumont Hospital for treatment.
Investigators have determined no alcohol was involved in the crash. Witnesses at the scene verified the Mustang had been stopped in the exit lane.
“Once the investigators are done speaking to the drivers at the hospital, they’ll come back and figure out the speeds and such,” Shaw said. “We’ll have to take a look at why (the Mustang driver) was stopped in the roadway. Then we’ll decide if someone needs to be cited with a ticket, or if it’s more serious, we’ll send it up to the prosecutor’s office for further action.”
Traffic lanes were closed on eastbound I-696 from 6:10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. The ramp at Couzens Avenue was closed even longer, for the purposes of fuel spill cleanup, although there was no major risk of a fire hazard, Shaw said.
Shaw said situations where cars break down in the freeway are tricky.
“If you can get your vehicle over to the shoulder of the road when you think it’s about to break down, we advise you stay inside, turn on emergency lights and call 911, and we’ll come get you,” Shaw said.
“But if you’re stuck in the travel lane, where the chances of being struck are much higher, you’re going to have to go with your best judgment, looking at traffic patterns,” he said. “If you don’t have to cross much to get to the embankment, that’s probably your best bet, but I don’t want to say that wherever you’re at, your best bet is to get out, because that may not be the case.”
Those who stay in their vehicle should wear their seatbelts at all times, Shaw said. He noted that incidents involving a stopped vehicle in the middle of the roadway are rare, although trucks flipping over due to evasive maneuvers are more common.
“We’re very fortunate that no one was killed in the crash today,” Shaw said.