State police investigate same-day car crashes on I-75

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published May 3, 2024


HAZEL PARK — In separate incidents that occurred on Interstate 75 the same day, a retired Madison Heights police officer was critically injured in one car crash, while a Harper Woods woman allegedly stabbed someone with scissors following another collision.

Both incidents occurred April 22. The first took place around 10 a.m. on the southbound lanes of I-75 at Schaefer Highway near the Detroit border in southern Wayne County, with two back-to-back vehicle crashes ensnarling traffic for miles.

In that incident, a 2013 Ford Escape entered a construction zone and hit a road crew’s truck. There were no injuries. The sole occupant of the Escape was a 21-year-old Detroit woman.

However, mere minutes later, a 2019 Jeep Compass driving in the left lane crashed into a nearby Wayne County arrow board truck. The 48-year-old driver was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the Wayne County truck was unharmed.    

“The first crash was due to speed and improper lane use,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw, in an email. “The second was due to speed and being unable to stop in a clear sure distance. Neither driver was able to control their vehicle.”

The driver of the Compass was later identified as Greg Hartunian, who retired as a sergeant from the Madison Heights Police Department less than two months ago. He had served with the department for 25 years.

“He was a detective, an evidence tech and an accident investigator,” said Madison Heights Police Chief Brent LeMerise. “I know Sgt. Hartunian both personally and professionally, and I had the opportunity to work closely with him in the detective bureau. Sgt. Hartunian is a hardworking, dedicated officer who had a fulfilling career here at the Madison Heights Police Department.”

The chief added that Hartunian had recently visited the department for a friend’s promotion to the rank of lieutenant, and that he was recently updated to stable condition.

“He has a difficult recovery ahead,” LeMerise said. “Our hearts go out to him and his family.”

The second crash occurred later that day, around 5:40 p.m., on the freeway ramp from northbound I-75 to eastbound Interstate 696 in Hazel Park. While state troopers raced to the scene, dispatchers used freeway cameras to locate and observe two vehicles that had crashed into each other.

According to Shaw, the driver of one crashed vehicle continued to back up into the other, and when troopers arrived, their investigation reportedly revealed that one of the drivers — a 37-year-old Harper Woods woman — had stabbed the other driver in the back with a pair of scissors.

The victim was treated at the scene and refused transport to the hospital. As for the suspect, who at press time had not been named, she was determined to be impaired. She allegedly threatened to harm herself and was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation, and then arrested. Her case was pending review by prosecutors.

“It is still under investigation, so I don’t have any other comments at this time,” Shaw said.