VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. -- Two people were killed and two more were critically injured in a crash in Hartford Township. The victims included a 6-year-old girl who died and a 1-year-old baby who is hospitalized in critical condition.
It happened at 2:35 p.m. Saturday in the 60000 block of Red Arrow Highway east of Hartford, Mich.
Deputies responded to a two-vehicle crash after an off-duty patrol sergeant called it in, according to Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott. The sergeant immediately began assisting the injured people. First responders began arriving and attempting life-saving measures.
The injured people were transported to local hospitals by ambulances.
Sheriff Abbott said that it appears that a 23-year-old Benton Harbor man was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Equinox eastbound and crossed the center line, hitting a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee head-on in the westbound lane.
The Grand Cherokee's driver, a 73-year-old woman from Paw Paw, was pronounced dead at the scene. A 6-year-old girl from Coloma, who was a passenger in the Equinox, was transported to Lakeland Watervliet, where she died from her injuries.
"Any situation where there’s a death is pretty heartbreaking for officers, but when you’re dealing with kids it’s a lot harder," said Sgt. Casey Davis with the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office. "Some of the officers that were on scene were pretty shook up today. We did have a debriefing with them. It was pretty positive getting everyone together and talking about what effects it had on them to respond to such a horrific event."
The 23-year-old Benton Harbor man who was driving the Equinox was transported to Lakeland St. Joseph's where he was listed in critical condition. A passenger in his vehicle, a 1-year-old boy from Benton, was transported to Bronson Kalamazoo where he was listed in critical condition.
Abbott said alcohol was believed to be a factor in the crash. Officials also tell FOX 17 based on the crash scene, it doesn't appear anyone hit the brakes prior to the collision.
The incident remains under investigation by the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office. The results of the investigation will be forwarded to the Van Buren County Prosecutor's Office.
Anybody with any information about this incident is being asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office at (269) 657-3101, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-7867 or Silent Observer at (269) 343-2100.