Van Buren Co. Gets 100+ Inches of Snow; Some Roads Down to One Lane

Posted at 8:35 PM, Jan 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-30 15:00:28-05

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. — FOX 17 meteorologist said more than 100 inches of snow have fallen in Van Buren County this winter.

The seasons have changed dozens of times since Sergeant David Walker took the oath to serve and protect Van Buren County, but this one stands out.

“I haven’t seen this much snow in a long time, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” Walker said.

He’s observed that “the snowplows are having difficulty keeping the roads open over here.”

Walker drove a FOX 17 crew around the county to give us an idea of the challenges his department, road crews, and drivers face this season. We observed that some snow drifts are more than 8 feet high. The drifts blanket country roads across the county. Blowing wind creates obstacles for drivers. Some roads are down to one lane because of the snow. Northbound and southbound traffic is forced to share one lane. Visibility is near zero with whiteout conditions. The nighttime’s darkness worsens the situation.

“So if people don’t slow their speeds at the nighttime hours, you’re looking at a possible disaster waiting to happen,” Walker said.

“It’s been a constant battle trying to keep up with all the calls for service that we’ve had with all the motorists assists, traffic crashes and so forth,” Walker explained.

“As fast as an officer responds to one, you’re getting several calls from dispatch reporting several more [accidents] in the same area,” he added.

Van Buren County Sergeant Tony Evans responded to one of those accidents, Tuesday night. It’s a routine call that landed him in the hospital. Walker said another driver failed to move over. Evans was sitting on the passenger side of his patrol vehicle. He was in the process of getting out of it. That’s when the driver hit the deputy’s vehicle. The impact threw Evans into his passenger-side door. He was injured.

“Last night, I’m texting my body buddy. Ya know, ‘You ok?’ Cause he’s a real good friend of mine. So the concern levels [go] up,” Walker said.

“Just to hear his voice, make sure he’s alright. Cause I’ve been there. I’ve been on the highway dodging cars and trucks sliding sideways at me, and it’s very scary,” Walker said.
As Evans recovers, the ice and the snow drifts remain a danger.

The road commission tries to keep up, but until the weather warms up, Walker suggests drivers avoid unnecessary travel. Consider packing a survival kit such as medication, a shovel, blankets, maps or a GPS, etcetera.

Walker said, “Always expect the unexpected when you’re driving Michigan.”

Follow Darren Cunningham on Facebook