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Woman pinned under semi near Tulip City Truck Stop

Posted at 9:01 PM, Jul 16, 2015

HOLLAND, Mich. -- A woman is fortunate to have escaped from a bad crash with only minor injuries after her vehicle was pinned under a semi on Thursday. The highway where it happened is no stranger to similar crashes.

MDOT is in the process of planning for reconstructing the area of M-40 near I-196 in Holland. Most of the accidents have occurred in front of the Tulip City Truck Stop.

Four people have been killed in that area over the past several years.

"Not sure if she never saw (the semi) or what," witness Curtis Avink said of the driver of the car. "By the time she went to hit the brakes and lock them up, it was too late."

Avink said that he was standing in the parking lot of the Tulip City Truck Stop when a black Nissan smashed into the semi, becoming completely pinned underneath. As a volunteer fireman in a nearby county, he sprang into action.

"She surprisingly was breathing perfectly fine. She was relaxed. I climbed right underneath the trailer, pretty much into the car with her. I said everything is fine. Things will be okay. I said just relax and keep calm, and she wanted me to call her parents."

"My stomach dropped when I watched everything happen," said Avink. "I mean, it's nothing new to see anything like this."

In December of 2013, Hamilton High School teacher Joshua Hoppe was killed when his vehicle collided with a semi. In 2007, a father and his two children were killed when their van collided with a big rig.

All of the crashes took place on M-40 in front of the Tulip City Truck Stop.

"Drivers, be careful who you are pulling out in front of," said Sgt. Jon Boeve with the Holland Department of Public Safety. "And vehicles driving down M-40, be careful what's coming out of the truck stop, because we've had some really bad crashes here."

In 2014, MDOT conducted a study of the area and almost a year ago announced options for redesigning traffic flow for the area. MDOT said on Thursday that the official plan is to redirect all semis to behind the truck stop using Interchange Drive. A traffic light will be added at Interchange drive, and semis will be required to use the light to enter M-40.

The project is expected to cost between $1 million and $2 million.

MDOT said that it is in the process of receiving bids for the project. Construction could start as soon as the end of this summer. Otherwise, construction will have to wait until next spring.