VAN BUREN COUNTY, MI – All lanes of eastbound I-94 at exit 41, M-140 near Watervliet and westbound I-94 at exit 46 were closed due to multi-vehicle crashes on Sunday, January 17th, 2016.
It is being reported by authorities that some 65 cars were involved in three separate pile-ups. One of those crashes involved at least 44 vehicles. There were multiple injuries.
A Van Buren County officer responding to one of the crash scenes was also involved in a wreck, but was not seriously injured.
The first accident occurred on eastbound I-94 at exit 41 near Watervliet involving eight vehicles and one semi-truck. Because of the first crash, traffic backed up causing another accident that involved at least 44 vehicles. Six of those were semi’s. One person was killed and 3 people suffered critical injuries from that pile-up. 11 more were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Originally Michigan State Police had stated that two people had died. They later revised that statement.
Matt Fehlhaber posted to Facebook “Prayer warriors and friends, please pray for my aunt, uncle and cousin who were part of this terrible crash. Uncle is banged up, aunt is missing, and cousin, Andrew Griesemer is in critical condition.” In a second post, at about 9:45 p.m., Matt has identified that it was his aunt, Carol Griesemer, as the person who was killed.
The third pile-up happened on westbound I-94 near M-51 at exit 56 that involved another 12 vehicles. Only minor injuries are being reported from that crash.
Problems were being reported by MDOT on the freeway starting at about 2:00 p.m. when EB I-94 after M-140 (Watervliet Rd) was closed due to accidents. Then at 2:53 they reported again that WB I-94 at 64th St Exit 46 was closed.
The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has issued a winter weather advisory for most of southwest Michigan through noon Monday. That includes Muskegon, Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Van Buren and Allegan counties. Roads will be snow covered and slippery.
The Van Buren County Road Commission stated on Facebook that visibility and conditions were not good. Reports of zero visibility were reported on I-94.
WB I-94 at M-51 Exit 56 and EB I-94 at M-140 (Watervliet Rd) exit 41 reopened at 8:14 p.m according to MDOT.