M-40’s Deadly History: Similar Fatal Accident Happened in 2007

Posted at 8:22 PM, Dec 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 05:08:10-05

HOLLAND, Mich. — Joshua Hoppe, 30, died on M-40 after his vehicle smashed into a semi-truck Wednesday morning.

Captain Jack Dykstra with Holland’s Department of Public Safety said the semi was in the process of turning left onto M-40 while leaving a truck stop.

Hoppe apparently tried to stop.

In January 2007, a similar accident took place. Curt Boeve, 38, was driving on M-40 when his vehicle also collided with a semi-truck that was turning out of the truck stop. Boeve and two of his children, Zachary, 13, and Emma, 4, were killed. Two of Boeve’s other children were seriously hurt.

After that accident, the community of Holland called for changes on that stretch of M-40. The Michigan Department of Transportation performed a study and has done two more since, but there’s still no light at that area.

“All three studies revealed the same thing, and that’s there’s not enough traffic volume or enough crash history or any other requirements,” Nick Schirripa, MDOT spokesperson, said.

“There are 11 warrants that are needed to put up a traffic signal. That seems to be the default request and people think that’ll make it more safe,” he added.

FOX 17 requested MDOT pull traffic data for that stretch of M-40. “Historically, since 2004, we’ve had, including this crash today, we’ve had about eight crashes total,” Schirripa said. Of the eight crashes, two were fatal, including Wednesday’s.

Schirripa said a stop light won’t make the road safer, it would just change the kind of problems you’re going to have on that stretch.

“In terms of putting a signal up, and imagine … imagine a signal being there, you’re stopping 55-mile-an-hour traffic, where there’s nothing else to stop them,” he said.

He also said changing the speed limit wouldn’t make the location safer. “Speed limits are nothing but arbitrary numbers on black and white signs,” Schirripa said. “That doesn’t tell people what speed to drive. It in essence reflects what 85 percent of motorists already are driving.”

He said he doesn’t know if there are any alternatives. However, Schirripa said, the Michigan Department of Transportation will continue to monitor that stretch of the road.