Three dead, two hurt in Muskegon crash, neighbor runs barefoot to help

Posted at 10:39 AM, Jul 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-22 17:27:15-04

EGELSTON TWP., Mich. -- Three people are dead and two people were injured in a crash in Muskegon County Wednesday morning, according to Michigan State Police.

Michigan State Police identified the victims as husband and wife, Allen and Jolene Ames of Casnovia, and Beatrice Amen of Ravenna; each in their eighties.  Two people in the other vehicle were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.

The crash happened before 10:00am at the intersection of South Maple Island Road and Evanston Avenue.  The intersection has reopened.

Troopers said the husband, wife, and Amen were traveling westbound on Evanston Avenue in a Nissan Versa.  Their vehicle pulled into the path of a southbound pickup truck.

The force of the collision sent the two vehicles into a third vehicle that was parked at the corner and was for sale.

Amber Epplett lives across the intersection from where the accident happened, and told FOX 17 she ran barefoot outside her home to try to help once she heard "tires squealing and thud that sounded like a shotgun."

“I ran out the door, the vehicles were just settling into place, dust was still rising. I just ran out, went to the first vehicle, which was the car, seen that the gentleman was still breathing but not responding, and then his one passenger, I had thought at the time was just the one, in the back seat, wasn’t moving or responding to anything," explained Epplett.

Epplett, a respiratory nurse, said her mother was on the phone with 911 dispatchers when she relayed information back between the two vehicles.

“As I was checking the other passengers [dispatchers] asked to see if they were breathing, so I checked them and said no," said Epplett. "They asked if I would do CPR, we attempted to pull the back passenger out, but she was too pinned and we couldn’t.”

In tears, Epplett said she wishes she could have done more.

“It’s sad to see those people that belong to somebody lifeless," said Epplett."

Meanwhile, Sunny Sorensen said she woke up to the sounds of the crash that happened in her front yard. As her neighbor Epplett relayed information to emergency responders, Sorensen said she spoke with the two passengers in the truck.

"To the families, our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with them," said Sorensen. "It doesn't stop here, the ripple effect will continue, there are going to be people who feel this for years."

Sorensen found a pair of glasses in the scattered debris and laid them with flowers near the crash site. Both she and Epplett ask anyone who witnesses an accident in the future to help if possible.

"If you do see an accident and you can help, help; but also remember try not to move anything out of the roads or anything because the police need that stuff as evidence to see what actually happened," said Epplett.

Loved ones of Allen and Jolene Ames told FOX 17 they want their privacy, and said their family has been through a very difficult time. An obituary said that Chris Ames, son of Allen and Jolene, passed away last week.