4:20pm EST Update:
MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Muskegon Township Police Chief David Wypa says white-out conditions and slick roads contributed to a 40-vehicle pile-up Friday afternoon on southbound US-31, near exit 120.
“All it takes is one, and that started the whole thing.”
Police say more vehicles braking for the crash up ahead were involved in slide-offs north of that location.
Chief Wypa tells FOX 17 at the scene the first calls came in around 1:42 p.m. of a spun-out car. “And as you can imagine, it was white-out conditions out here that started a chain-reaction.”
Wypa says there were more vehicles involved in crashes north of Holton Road, where southbound US-31 traffic was diverted until about 4:25 p.m. That’s when the southbound lanes reopened.
“Amazingly,” says Wypa, “only three people were reported to have some injuries. They were taken by ambulance to local hospitals. I think most of them were minor injuries, though.” And he says all of those injured were in the same vehicle.
Kim Vossekul lives nearby. She tells us: “I was just getting ready to snow-blow my driveway, and my kids actually came in the house and said, ‘Mom, there’s been an accident. We can see it from the snow fort….sure enough, big pileup. You could hear the cars kind of hitting farther down – piling up. And I found out my neighbor had already called 9-1-1 and fire trucks, ambulances were here, and what not.”
Wypa says about 15 officers responded to the scene to take reports and assist towing companies clear the area.
“It was reported up here by one of our officers that visibility was down to almost right in front of you…we believe somebody lost control, which started a chain-reaction.”
His advice to motorists: slow down. “If that means driving 25 miles an hour, then drive 25 miles per hour…The only thing we can say to people is you’ve got to take it slow. When people get on the highway they think because it’s 70 miles-an-hour (speed limit), that they can do 70 miles per hour.
“It’s just like anything else. You’ve got to drive to the road conditions. The highway’s extremely icy. If you were to step on it right now, you’d probably fall down. That’s how icy it is.”