Police: I-96 wrong-way driver causes multiple crashes

Posted at 3:53 PM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 18:19:20-05

MARNE, Mich.  — The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says a wrong-way driver caused multiple crashes in Marne on Tuesday afternoon, and I-96 was shut down in both directions at one point. And before her vehicle entered the freeway, police say she also was involved in another crash.

The first crash occurred in the Marne area of Wright Township around 3:06 p.m.

Sergeant Matt Wilfong says the alleged at-fault driver – a 33-year-old Grand Rapids woman – was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in critical-but stable condition. Police say she was heading westbound on Ironwood Avenue in a Jeep Liberty when she sideswiped a vehicle driven by Jody Stamm, who was stopped while waiting to turn onto 8th Avenue. The 51-year-old Stamm, of Marne, was not injured.

Police say the woman driving the Jeep continued on, entering eastbound I-96 while going west; in other words, she was heading westbound in the eastbound lanes. Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority then broadcast an alert about a wrong-way driver on the freeway. “A short time later, responders were updated that there had been a head-on crash westbound…at the 23 Mile Marker in the eastbound lanes.” That location is west of 16th Avenue.

Police say the Grand Rapids woman’s vehicle had collided with a minivan driven by Karena Groenendyk, age 34, of Holland.  Groenendyk was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in stable condition, according to Sergeant Wilfong. Two children in her vehicle suffered minor scrapes and cuts.

Not long after that, police say another crash occurred on the westbound side of the freeway, near 16th Avenue. Troopers from the Michigan State Police Rockford Post handled that crash. There was no immediate indication if it was related to the other crash on the eastbound side of I-96.  Ottawa County Dispatchers told FOX 17 one vehicle was upside-down; an ambulance was dispatched the scene, but a medical chopper on standby was told to stand down.

There is no  word yet from MSP on injuries involved in that crash.