Wrong-way driver in deadly US-131 crash ID’d

Grand Rapids
firetrucks and police lights on on highway

Authorities respond to a deadly wrong-way crash on US-131 in Grand Rapids on July 29, 2019.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police say alcohol was a factor in a wrong-way crash on US-131 that killed two drivers.

Troopers say 30-year-old Elaine Tafere of Kentwood was heading southbound on northbound US-131 when her silver Toyota hit another car head-on, killing 29-year-old Carl Russo of the Howard City area.

Tafere also died at the scene of the crash, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Monday near Hall Street in Grand Rapids.

Troopers say it’s unclear where Tafere got onto the highway. Other drivers on the expressway at the time told 24 Hour News 8 they saw her car driving the wrong way at least as far as the S-curve north of Franklin Street.

Russo was part of a big, well-known Italian family. His aunt, Marcia Johnson, said he was an outdoorsman known for his big smile and easygoing, fun-loving style.

Man holding puppy in hand
An undated courtesy photo of Carl David Russo. (Instagram)

“He was gonna come back and help move and then said, ‘Ok Dad, I love you’ and gave him an extra big hug and was just so special to Carl. And then he said, ‘You be careful driving,’ his dad told him, and he was ‘Ok, I will.’ And then we found out this morning what happened, and that was it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Russo’s dog was also in the car and died in the crash.

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