2 hospitalized after US-131 wrong-way crash

The wrong-way crash scene on southbound US-131 near 36th Street in Wyoming. (Aug. 5, 2014)


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A section of southbound US-131 in Wyoming was shut down for about two hours Tuesday morning after a crash caused by a wrong-way driver.

Two people were taken to the hospital after the wreck, which happened around 10:20 a.m. south of the 36th Street overpass.

accident-131-3
(The wrong-way crash on southbound US-131 in Wyoming. Aug. 5, 2014)

Police say a silver SUV headed north in the southbound lanes slammed into a black SUV hauling a trailer, which was driving in the correct direction.

Witness Michael DeMeester, who was in a nearby shop, said he “heard a huge explosion,” which alerted him to the crash.

DeMeester said one of the vehicles caught fire after the crash, and passersby worked together to find fire extinguishers and try to put it out.

Southbound traffic on the highway was backed up well past the 28th Street exit for hours as crews worked to remove the wrecked vehicles and debris from the crash site.

“Why the vehicle was going the wrong way, we don’t know,” Michigan State Police Trooper Brian Komm said.

MSP is investigating the possibility that the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs.

Police had not released the names of anyone involved Tuesday afternoon, but 24 Hour News 8 learned the wrong-way driver is a 36-year-old woman whose last known address was in Wyoming.

Her record, which dates back to 1998, includes refusal to comply with a blood-alcohol test, a charge of driving while impaired with drugs and another drug arrest. And last year, she was cited for careless driving and being at fault in an accident that injured three people. Her license was also suspended then.

Tuesday afternoon, the woman was in critical condition at a Grand Rapids hospital. Her family told 24 Hour News 8 she is diabetic and was suffering from symptoms of the disease at the time of the wreck.

The driver of the second SUV was a 49-year-old Grand Rapids man who was helping his son move. The trailer was full of furniture. There was initial confusion at the scene because the man indicated his son was with him and may have been thrown from the vehicle, but police soon discovered the son was not in the SUV at the time of the crash.

The 49-year-old’s condition was unknown Tuesday afternoon, but police said they had been told he would have to undergo surgery.

Police say it’s too early to speculate on potential criminal charges in Tuesday’s crash.

“We haven’t had a chance to interview that driver yet,” Komm said.

Wyoming police said a second wreck also occurred in the northbound lanes of US-131 north of 28th Street. The severity of that wreck was unknown, and one lane of the highway was shut down for about 40 minutes, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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