65 vehicles involved in chain reaction collisions on I-94 in Van Buren County

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By: Jon Zimney jzimney@953mnc.com

I-94 was reopened to traffic in Van Buren County, Mich. on Sunday, Jan. 17 just after 8 p.m. following three separate collisions near Hartford. The collisions involved around 65 vehicles. One person was killed. Three other people were critically injured. Nearly a dozen other people had non-life-threatening injuries, including a Van Buren County Sheriff’s Deputy who was struck by a vehicle while tending to another injured person.

Michigan State Police issued the following information on Sunday evening detailing the collisions:

At approximately 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17, troopers from the Paw Paw Post, deputies from Van Buren County, and officers from Hartford Police Department responded to several traffic crashes on eastbound I-94 just west of Hartford and westbound I-94 east of Hartford. The initial minor injury crash involved eight passenger vehicles and one semi-truck on eastbound I-94. Drivers directly behind the crash were able to stop safely and not collide or lose control.

As traffic began to backup, less than a mile west of the initial crash, two semi-trucks collided due to a combination of high speeds for conditions, drivers following too closely, and low visibility. Then, 42 other vehicles collided. The second collision involved 38 passenger vehicles and six semi-trucks. This crash resulted in one confirmed fatality and three patients with life threatening injuries. An additional 11 people involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, including a Van Buren County deputy who was struck by a passenger vehicle outside of his patrol car while rendering first-aid to subject with a broken leg.

During the same time, a 12 car minor injury crash occurred on the west bound side of I-94 approximately 1 mile east of Hartford. This crash involved six passenger vehicles and six semi-trucks. The initial investigation indicated the causes for the crash were drivers traveling to fast for the road conditions, following too closely, and low visibility.