Teenagers and toddler rescued from burning car in Ottawa County crash
Neighbors are also speaking out, saying the intersection has always been dangerous and it would be difficult for anyone to stop at the sign on the gravel road.
GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Michigan — We are learning more about a fatal crash in Ottawa County that left a 14-year-old dead and four other children injured, including a baby.
Sheriff’s deputies, first on the scene, pulled several people from a Jeep that had caught fire, and nearby neighbors say the intersection has always been very dangerous.
Authorities said the driver was a 17-year-old man. Also in the car were a 13-year-old passenger in the front seat, a 15-year-old passenger and an 18-month-old in the back seat, along with a 14-year-old female passenger who was killed in the crash. .
On Thursday afternoon, investigators said the driver was in serious but stable condition, the 13-year-old boy and the 18-month-old boy were in critical condition, and the 15-year-old boy was in stable condition.
The crash happened Wednesday in Georgetown Township, at the intersection of Jackson Street and 22nd Avenue. Investigators said the Jeep, carrying the five occupants, drove through the stop sign and into the path of a gravel truck.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said when deputies arrived at the scene, the Jeep was on fire. Some of the passengers had gotten out of the car, including the baby, but several others were still stuck inside. It was then that two deputies ran to save the rest of the flames.
“We are proud of them,” said Capt. J. Douglas of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. “They obviously did something that, yes, we signed up for, but those are the days we go and you really know what you did that day. You changed someone’s life and potentially saved someone’s life.”
“They just saw something that needed action and stepped in and dealt with it,” he added.
Authorities said several of the occupants of the Jeep were not wearing seat belts and it was a passerby who was tending to the baby when deputies arrived.
The driver of the gravel truck was not injured in the accident.
Several people who live near the gravel intersection spoke to 13 ON YOUR SIDE reporter Keely Lovern about the area, saying it has always been dangerous.
Jenna VanOverLoop has lived on Jackson Street Road for 16 years and is suffering for the victims. She said she was not surprised to learn that an accident had happened there.
“Even myself having driven this before, I’ve been caught before where it’s hard to stop if you don’t know the stop sign is coming,” she said. “It’s a very dangerous intersection, it happens all the time, and we see it quite frequently unfortunately.”
Mitch Faber, another neighbor, said he drives through this intersection almost every day and always knew it was a problem spot.
“You could be traveling at around 35 miles per hour, lock your brakes and you’re still going to slide,” says Faber. “It gives you a warning there, but if you don’t pay attention to the side of the road, you won’t be able to see it.”
It’s mostly because if you’ve never driven it before, you’d have no idea the stop sign is there or that the gravel leading to it is short and slippery.
“Fortunately, I took it several times,” he said. “But you would never know the stop sign was there, and you’re not going to recognize that sign that quickly.”
According to the Ottawa County Roads Board, there have been four accidents at this intersection since 2020, including the one on Wednesday. They said that in 2020, several safety updates were implemented, including reflectors and a “STOP AHEAD” sign. However, after situations like this, they said they had to take another look.
“We take the time when something like this happens to review these incidents and see what kinds of improvements, if any, could be made,” said Alex Doty, communications administrator for the County Highways Commission. Ottawa.
Doty also said, however, that some issues cannot be resolved.
“Unfortunately in some things, you know, you try as much as you can to improve safety at an intersection, but sometimes it’s not something that can often be improved,” he says.
VanOverLoop and Faber, however, think the intersection can be improved. Each offered several ideas for solutions to the dangerous intersection, including making the end of the road to the stop sign concrete, more signage pointing to the stop sign, or even flashing lights that are easier to see.
“Just so you can see, like, hey, we’re stopping here,” VanOverLoop says.
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