Supt.: Teacher whose SUV was impaled by pole dies

Holland Christian teacher and coach Kevin Witte involved in crash Monday morning

kevin witte
An undated courtesy photo of Kevin Witte.

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The Holland Christian High School teacher whose vehicle was impaled by a pole on Monday morning has died, according to a Facebook post by the school’s superintendent.

Kevin Witte, a 37-year-old social studies and Bible teacher and soccer coach, died shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, Superintendent Dan Meester wrote on the district’s Facebook page.

“This news hurts,” Meester wrote. “It pains us to the core.”

“For as long as you have been Christians, you’ve learned about Jesus’ victory over sin and death on the cross and the resulting redemption for us. Mr. Witte—right now—is living out that truth in the presence of God. We can give praise for that, but it doesn’t take away the pain of loss we feel without Kevin in our lives,” the superintendent continued. “And this is when we need each other.”

Meester went on to say he was “amazed” by the support Witte’s family and the district have received.

The crash happened shortly after 7 a.m. Monday as Witte was driving south on 120th Avenue in Holland Township. Also headed south was a Ford stake truck from Parkway Electric in Holland, which was carrying a long pole in the back. When the truck pulled into the center turn lane to make a left onto Garden Avenue, the long pole swung into the southbound lane and impaled Witte’s SUV, entering through the windshield, striking Witte and then protruding out the rear side cargo window.

As they investigate the crash, Ottawa County authorities are trying to determine whether the pole was being hauled properly. A sergeant told 24 Hour News 8 that the pole had a flag and light on the end of it, but it did not have permit. It’s not yet entirely clear if it was required to have one.

“We are still investigating,” Sgt. Steve Austin wrote in an email to 24 Hour News 8.  “But, in talking to the Motor Carrier Division of the Michigan State Police, it sounds like a pole more than 40 feet long must have a permit…”

Austin said the pole that struck Witte’s SUV was 44 feet long.

120th is a county road rather than a state one, so it’s possible that state rules do not apply. When 24 Hour News 8 called the Ottawa County’s Road Commission Tuesday afternoon seeking clarification, the weighmaster was already gone for the day.

The driver of the truck, 61-year-old Thomas Heeringa of Holland, has a clean driving record.

Tuesday, Parkway Electric provided 24 Hour News 8 with this statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in yesterday’s accident. We continue to fully cooperate with authorities investigating the accident.”

After the sheriff’s office finishes investigating, it will pass the case along to the county prosecutor’s office, which will determine what, if any, charges are appropriate.