EGELSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Three elderly people were killed in a two-vehicle crash on Wednesday near Muskegon, according to a Michigan State Police sergeant on scene.
It happened around 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Evanston Avenue and S Maple Island Road.
Troopers said 82-year-old Allen Ames and 84-year-old Jolene Ames of Casanovia along with 85-year-old Beatrice Amen of Ravenna were driving west in their car on Evanston Avenue when they failed to stop at the stop sign. Their car then hit a pickup truck with two people inside who were traveling south on South Maple Island Road.
Amber Epplett lives along Maple Island Road and heard the crash.
“I just stepped out the back door when I heard tires squealing and then I heard a thud which sounded like a shotgun going off, ran in the house and told my mom to call 911 and told my nieces to watch my daughter,” said Epplett.
Epplett was the first to arrive at the crash and immediately tried to help the victims.
“The vehicles were just settling into place and dust was still rising. My mom was on the phone with 911 as I was checking to see the other passengers. They asked to see if they were breathing so I checked them and I said no. They asked if I would do CPR which I attempted to pull the back passenger out, but she was too pinned in and we couldn’t,” Epplett said.
The crash landed in the front yard of Sunny Sorensen’s home and she also decided to immediately respond to the crash to help.
“I came out running and there was just chaos. There was a lot of people. Amber, my neighbor, and her mom were there and I noticed 911 had been called and they were basically checking on everybody so I came out to see how I could help,” said Sorensen.
Sorensen works at a crisis center and Epplett works as a respiratory therapist, and both said they used their training.
“Usually we are the ones who send counselors out to the ones who have been kind of in the front line. We usually don’t deal with it first hand,” Sorensen said.
“I just kicked into that mode of calmness and do what needs to be done to help those people. I think sleeping tonight won’t be the easiest even though I’m used to seeing people in distress at a hospital. It’s just a little bit different because they have more than just you and a few other people around,” Epplett told 24 Hour News 8.
Epplett said the intersection is dangerous and there have been a few crashes since she has lived there.
“This corner is not a good corner. People driving down Maple Island do not do the speed limit whatsoever. Stop signs on Evanston are not seen. They get ran quite often,” Epplett said.
24 Hour News 8 found that there have been five crashes at the intersection of Maple Island Road and Evanston Avenue within the last five years, according to state statistics. The crash Wednesday brings the number to six.
“It’s nerve-wracking, it’s saddening. It’s sad to see those people that belong to somebody lifeless pretty much,” said Epplett.
“We haven’t lived here very long and there have been a couple of accidents that kind of shake you,” Sorensen said.
Both of the neighbors said they tried everything they could to save the victims in Wednesday’s crash and the fact that they couldn’t save them is weighing on them.
“I think the hardest part was the way the women were, not being able to get them in a position to help them further so I’m dealing with that guilt and regret and just kind of what more could I have done. Nobody here wanted to be a hero. I mean, you just want to help people go back to their families, go back to their lives and this is just a hiccup. You repair the cars or total the car and get a new one, whatever, but when it’s the people, that’s what counts. There’s families out there that are going to be impacted. It’s a ripple effect. It doesn’t stop in my front yard, it continues on,” Sorensen said.
Residents living near the intersection said they want flashing lights installed to alert people to stop at the stop sign and plan to take their concerns to the county.
“When you’re used to the sound it gives off and you know exactly what happened, it means it’s happening a little too much,” said Epplett.
The driver and passenger in the pickup truck were taken to a nearby hospital. Their conditions are unknown at this time.
The intersection was closed for nearly three hours while authorities investigated the crash.