GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sunday's wrong-way crash on I-96 in Kent County near the East Beltline exit is the seventh instance of a wrong-way driver causing an accident on a West Michigan highway this year.
Police say just before 3:00 a.m. Sunday, a wrong-way driver heading east on westbound I-96 near the Beltline exit collided head-on with another vehicle, killing the driver inside.
The wrong-way driver, believed to have been drunk, survived the crash and was pulled from the wreckage by a passerby, according to police.
The westbound lanes of I-96 between the Cascade and Beltline exits were shut down for about four hours Sunday morning as Michigan State Police investigated and worked to clear wreckage.
While all are unrelated, it's just the latest in a string of recent wrong-way crashes in West Michigan in a disturbing trend police can't seem to explain or understand.
"I wish I had an answer," said Sgt. Brian Keely with the Michigan State Police Rockford post, who was on scene following Sunday morning's crash.
"We have definitely noticed an uptick in that recently, and I don't have an explanation as far as why we've seen an increase in that recently."
In September, a wrong-way driver was killed in a crash that injured three others near the Marne exit in Ottawa County. In a similar instance near that same exit in July, a woman traveling westbound suddenly pulled into one of the emergency turnarounds and entered the eastbound lanes but continued driving west, killing another driver.
In June, a wrong-way driver on I-96 near Coopersville killed another driver in a head-on collision.
In August on U.S. 131, a wrong-way crash tied up traffic in Kent County during the morning commute. Also on U.S. 131, two men were killed in Allegan County in April in a wrong-way head-on collision. A wrong-way collision on U.S. 131 earlier that same month in Cutlerville, Mich., killed one woman.
Police have not yet identified the two individuals involved in this latest crash, only saying the wrong-way driver is a 43-year-old woman from the Grand Rapids area.
Michigan State Police are looking for any information available. Contact Sgt. Jeffrey Varga at 616-866-4411