OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two people were killed in a Friday afternoon crash on M-57 in northeastern Kent County.
Around 2:45 p.m., deputies with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and troopers with the Michigan State Police were sent to M-57/14 Mile Road at Lappley Avenue NE in Oakfield Township, west of Greenville, for a three-vehicle crash.
According to MSP, the crash happened as an eastbound Chevy Trailblazer was slowing to turn left onto Lappley Avenue NE.
“They were struck from behind by a tractor semi, which pushed the SUV into the path of a westbound ambulance and that’s the vehicle that struck them,” MSP Sgt. Casey Trucks said.
The driver and passenger in the SUV were declared dead at the scene. Their names were not released Friday.
The driver of the semi and the staff in the ambulance, which tipped over, sustained minor injuries. There were no patients in the ambulance, police said.
M-57 was closed for about six hours while crews cleaned up and investigated. The road reopened around 8 p.m.
“I couldn’t tell you exact statistics,” Sgt. Trucks said. “But I can say that this road is a dangerous stretch.”
Melissa Smith has lived in Greenville for 18 years and close to M-57 for about 15 years. She said she has been in crashes on M-57 and has seen several others.
“We’ve had a couple people die since we’ve been here, right out here,” Smith said.
Smith said M-57 is referred to as “the death road.”
“M-57 is a very dangerous road because of the lack of just common sense, traffic concerns and the attitude of the drivers,” she said. “They put in those passing lanes and you can be going around 60, 55 (mph) in a long line of cars and you hit those lanes and people think, “Well, I’m going to pass those cause I want to go 65, 70, 75, even 80.'”
“When you’re going to turn left, the kids know not to turn their wheels so that it doesn’t get pushed. But honestly, the angle that someone could hit you from behind, you know, it could still push you into oncoming traffic. So I feel so bad for that family today that lost family,” she added.
She said she tries to avoid the stretch.
“My son, he’s starting driver’s ed next summer and he doesn’t even want to drive on 57. He wants to go around the sides, and I’m terrified of thinking of him, of going out there and in the dark,” she added.
As the number of people moving to the area increases, Smith believes more can be done to minimize the risk of crashes.
“I wish they would stop doing studies and take action,” Smith said. “Either patrol more officers and try and get these people to slow down, get the left turn signal lights on there. … Some of it you’re not going to be able to stop, but people just need to be reminded. You can’t be on each other’s bumpers.”
Michigan State Police urge drivers to watch their speed, not to drive distracted and to make sure there is enough distance between their car and the car in front.