UPDATE: Driver Killed after Car Drives off US-131and Catches Fire
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 3, 2014) – According to Michigan State Police, 26-year-old Armando Cruz-Williams of Grand Rapids is dead after his vehicle drove off northbound US-131 south of Ann Street Monday morning.
Black smoke was pouring from Cruz-Williams’ 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix around 7:45 Monday morning. Michigan State Police say Cruz-Williams was alone in the car and drove off of US-131 and died.
“As far as fire investigating it, the conditions were very bad when we arrived, the fire blaze was very high, smoke was very thick,” said Trooper Jake Cox, with the Michigan State Police Rockford post.
Troopers say witnesses did not see any erratic driving as Cruz-Williams drove northbound on US-131. Then for some unknown reason he lost control just before the Ann Street exit, where he drove over the freeway barrier. According to investigators, he then hit another concrete wall off the roadway head-on, and slid under the bridge on fire.
Ashley Adevai-Benton was driving with her husband and three young children when she saw the car fully engulfed in flames. Her husband called 911.
“I’m terrified of car accidents. When I see something like that my first reaction is, ‘are there kids,’ if there is we’ve got to help, whether it is calling 911. At that point I felt really helpless because there was nothing that anyone could have done except for the fire team. When they got there it was a little late,” said Adevai-Benton.
Many drivers say the snow build-up on the shoulders of US-131 look like dangerous ramps, but MDOT says this is not a problem spot. MDOT contracts the Kent County Road Commission to clear this snow and Director Jerry Byrne said crews were clearing snow where this accident happened Sunday night.
“When we`re not filling potholes and we`re not on snow removal on the main line, what we`ll do is we`ll try to break that crust on the edge of the road, next to the walls and next to the barriers. So it really takes the rolled-ness out and puts a blunt curb for motorists if they get off the road, they hit that versus the ramping type of effect,” said Byrne.
No other cars were involved in this accident, but the victim’s family friends and officials still question why the car lost control.
“We were up here when the fire department was still putting the fire out, we were up here in about 5 or 10 minutes after the accident, the road itself was dry,” added Byrne.
The investigation is still on-going, and the Michigan State Police Rockford Post was assisted on the scene by Grand Rapids Fire Department, Grand Rapids Police Department, and A.M.R. Ambulance services
Any witnesses are asked to contact Tpr. Cox of the Michigan State Police Rockford, at 616-866-4411.