30 truckers ticketed in huge January crashes on I-94

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Updated Mar 23, 2015
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A total of 30 truck drivers are receiving tickets for their involvement in a 193-vehicle crash that occurred Jan. 9 on I-94 in southwestern Michigan killing a Canadian trucker.

Michigan State Police (MSP) today announced it has concluded its investigation and says a total of 58 people, including the drivers of commercial vehicles, will be ticketed for what it calls “violation of basic speed law.”

The two related pileups — one in the westbound lanes and the other opposite it in the eastbound lanes — closed I-94 for two days. The crashes began at 9:20 a.m. on Jan. 9 during a period of heavy snow near east of Kalamazoo.

MSP says the pileups began in the eastbound lane when a semi-truck struck a van from behind and the van struck a car. That led to 60 vehicles — including 26 trucks — becoming part of that crash.

Making the eastbound accident even more dangerous was a tank truck carrying 44,600 lbs. of liquid formic acid overturned next to a truck loaded carrying 40,000 of fireworks. Both trucks caught fire, igniting the fireworks and forcing an evacuation order.

A Canadian trucker died in the eastbound collision.

MSP says the westbound crash began about 3-5 minutes later when drivers, distracted by the eastbound pileup, lost control of their vehicles in the winter storm. By the time it ended, MSP says 133 vehicles — including 50 commercial vehicles — were involved in this series of collisions.

In its statement, MSP says that in light of the number of trucks involved in the two accidents, it will work with the Michigan Truck Safety Commission and Canadian officials to help prevent accidents of this nature in the future.

“This crash is a vivid illustration of the dangers of traveling too fast on icy and snowy roads,” stated F/Lt. Dale Hinz, MSP Paw Paw Post Commander.  “As drivers, we are responsible for controlling our vehicles at all times, no matter the weather or roadway conditions.”

“The safest things a driver can do in winter weather conditions are to slow down and leave extra stopping distance between vehicles,” added Hinz.  “Numerous drivers of both commercial and passenger vehicles were able to safely stop their vehicles without crashing.  These drivers were observant and travelling at prudent speeds for the conditions.”