Snow bank may be to blame for Ottawa Co. crash

The snow bank on 20th Avenue in Georgetown Township. (Feb. 27, 2015)

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A crash Thursday night in Jenison sent a teenage passenger to the hospital with minor injuries.

The driver of the car she was in says a snow bank may have contributed to the crash.

Ottawa County Sheriffs deputies say 16-year-old Hailey Cearlock was the passenger in a car driven by 20-year-old Emilie Busman of Jenison.

Investigators say Busman was westbound on a side street approaching 20th Avenue. She stopped at the stop sign, but then pulled into the path of a vehicle northbound on 20th Avenue.

Busman and the driver of the second vehicles, 35-year-old Angela Korynta were not injured.

Cearlock was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Busman told deputies she didn’t see Korynta’s vehicles, possibly due to a high snow bank.

At first glance, it doesn’t appear the snow banks piled between the sidewalk and 20th Avenue should be a problem.

They don’t look all that high.

Neighbors say it depends on where you are sitting.

“It’s an obstruction,” says Nancy Smith who lives just down the block from where Thursday night’s crash happened.

We checked out the intersection and found part of the problem may be what you are driving.

The driver of an SUV, even a minivan, sits a little higher, and can see over the bank at the intersection where the crash occurred.

But pull up in a smaller car, like the Ford Focus involved in Thursday night’s crash, and the driver is at a shorter vantage point.

Nancy Smith drives a vehicles similar in height to the Ford Focus Busman was driving.

“You have to rise up and look,” says Smith, describing the way she adjust herself in the seat to give her a higher vantage point before pulling out into traffic.

Time of day may play a role as well.

Thursday night’s crash happened after the sun went down, just after 8 p.m.

Nancy Smith had a close call one day recently, just before the sun came up.

“I was leaving, and it was not quite daylight and I pulled up here and I didn’t think I saw anything coming and I pulled out. The next thing I knew a guy was right on my tail,” says Smith.

What’s the best advice?

Don’t assume you’re seeing all you need to see, until the snow piles melts away.

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