A Paw Paw truck crash on I-94 left a woman dead and sent several people to the hospital. Meanwhile, traffic from the fatal Michigan semi-truck accident triggered another crash in the area. The two accidents were preceded by a truck crash that caused an explosive fire on I-696.

Fatal Michigan Truck Crash Shuts Down I-94 for Hours

June 15, 2017
Both distracted driving and construction zone traffic from nearby bridge construction appear to be factors in a fatal truck crash between Paw Paw and Mattawan. The crash occurred on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at around 11:05 a.m., in the westbound lanes of I-94 by mile marker 63.

Michigan State Police say that they responded to reports of a multi-car collision involving a semi-truck. The semi-truck in question had slammed into the passenger vehicle in front of it, and subsequently hit three more vehicles before crashing into the median ditch.

Troopers say that the person in the front passenger seat of the first vehicle that the big rig hit died at the scene, while others involved were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the accident. Those injuries were not detailed in the police statement.

Images from the Paw Paw truck crash show a tractor trailer angled into the median in the distance, its yellow cab damaged, while a nearly-destroyed silver sedan is shown in the foreground, also on the median grass. Two black passenger vehicles are shown badly damaged and pressed together in the outside westbound lane, though facing opposite directions.

GoFundMe Set Up for Paw Paw Truck Crash Victim

The day after the Paw Paw truck crash, a GoFundMe site was set up on behalf of the one fatal victim of the crash, 51-year-old Marjann Baade. Marjann, the site says, was a “beloved mother, wife and daughter” and was “selfless and always went above and beyond to make sure her loved ones were cared for.” Comments on the site reference Marjann’s work as a hair stylist, and her love of life and fun.

As of June 20, 2017, $9,430 of the $10,000 goal had been raised, with donations going to the ceremony and services for Baade.

The GoFundMe site also says that Baade was “taken too soon by a fatal accident on I-94 W [sic] caused by a distracted semi-truck driver who was texting.” Michigan State Police have not officially detailed whether the suspected distracted driving was due to texting.

“The crash remains under investigation, however, congestion due to the bridge construction in the area and distracted driving appear to be contributing factors,” a release said following the crash.

Second Crash Triggered by Paw Paw Truck Crash

The Paw Paw truck crash set off a chain reaction, causing another crash about 15 minutes later. That crash occurred at approximately 11:20 a.m. by the 66-mile marker and Mattawan exit.

Troopers say that a 54-year-old Mattawan man driving a GMC Yukon swerved to avoid traffic backups from the initial truck accident and hit the cable median barrier, which caused the SUV to flip onto its roof before coming to a rest in the eastbound lanes. The man was transported to an area hospital for treatment of his unidentified injuries.

I-94 was shut down for more than two hours in both directions following the two crashes, with backups stretching for more than 10 miles. The Michigan Department of Transportation announced shortly after 1:30 p.m. that the highway had reopened.

Michigan State Police used the Paw Paw truck crash to clarify the dangers of distracted driving in construction zones.

“The Michigan State Police remind drivers to exercise extra care when approaching construction zones as traffic back-ups are common in these areas,” a news release issued by the police following the crash said. “Reducing speed and increasing following distance between vehicles can prevent these crashes.”

Semi-Truck Involved in Fiery Crash on I-696 in Royal Oak

June 12, 2017
A three-car accident on I-696 in Royal Oak resulted in a massive fire that the Royal Oak Fire Department had to battle on the hottest day of the year so far.

The accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, June 12, 2017, between Bermuda Street and Woodward Avenue. Michigan State Police say that three vehicles were involved in the crash, including a semi-truck, but have not released information on the cause of the crash or how the accident unfolded.

One witness said that the accident “sounded like an explosion, like a bomb” and was loud enough that it felt like it could have been happening much closer.

The big rig trapped a Dodge Durango between it and the median and a Chevy Malibu crashed head-on into the median behind the semi-truck and SUV.

Jacob Clark saw the crash and said that everyone involved was rushing to try to get to safety.

“They were all just scrambling around to help each other out of the situation,” Clark said in an interview with ClickOnDetroit. “When I pulled up, I saw the ladies throwing each other out of the Durango, and I went up that way and just starting heading, and that’s when I heard the boom. All the tires exploding and smoke, black smoke and everything. [sic]”

Several witnesses recorded video of the fire following the crash.

It’s not clear whether the semi-truck was the first to catch fire, but officials say that the fact that the trailer it was hauling was empty likely prevented the situation from being even worse. Pictures from the scene show massive flames engulfing the entire accident scene and huge clouds of black, billowing smoke rising into the sky. The fire presented a challenge for the Royal Oak Fire Department.

“It was intense, and it’s the hottest day of the year so far, so it’s hot,” Royal Oak Fire Department Lt. Doug Stark said.

Miraculously, there were no injuries sustained in either the three-vehicle crash or the resulting fire.

“They were really lucky,” Stark said.

Traffic remained closed in the westbound lanes of I-696 for over an hour.