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Ambulance crash leaves one dead, MSP makes official statement

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 01, 2015

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. - One man is dead after a crash involving a Life EMS ambulance, leaving several others hurt in Northern Kent County this afternoon.

Lieutenant Chris McIntire, Post Commander for the Michigan State Police Rockford Post, said the ambulance was doing everything right.

"They had their lights and sirens on, both activated so they were doing it right," said Lieutenant McIntire.

The crash happened around 12 p.m. along M-37, just North of 15 Mile Rd. The roadway was closed for hours so an accident reconstruction team could try and determine exactly what led up to it.

State Police tell Fox 17 the ambulance was transporting multiple patients at the time of the crash. The preliminary investigation revealed 63-year-old Douglas Lee Westra from Newaygo lost control of his SUV as other drivers slowed for the on-coming ambulance, leading to a much larger emergency response.

"It appears that an ambulance was driving with full lights and sirens on Southbound and as traffic was slowing to let the ambulance through on the Northbound lanes a driver went off the shoulder of the road," said Lieutenant McIntire.

Westra lost control of his vehicle, then made his way back onto the road before striking the ambulance.

"He was pushed into a third vehicle so there were three vehicles total involved," said Lieutenant McIntire.

Westra was pronounced dead at the scene, a passenger in his vehicle was also injured and taken to the hospital. And at least four people in the ambulance as well.

"There was more than one patient in the ambulance," said Lieutenant McIntire. "There was a medic in the back of the ambulance and there was a driver of the ambulance, and they were all injured."

Westra's passenger, the ambulance patients, paramedic and ambulance driver were all taken to Butterworth Hospital through a combination of ambulance and aeromed.

Life EMS President, Mark Meijer, releasing this statement shortly after the crash:

"The safety of our patients, staff and all those we serve in the community is our number-one priority.  We are saddened to report that there has been a serious accident in northern Kent County late this morning which involved one of our ambulances transporting a patient.  As we have few details, our primary focus involves our thoughts and prayers to everyone involved."

No other names besides Westra's have been released at this point. There is still no update on the other people injured or their exact conditions.

McIntire said there's no early indication that speed played a role in the crash. MSP is still waiting for the accident reconstruction team to finish their report.