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Posted on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:39 a.m.

1 dead in car crash in Ypsilanti Township

By John Counts


Police investigate a fatal accident in Ypsilanti Township Wednesday morning. One man died when the box truck he was driving hit a tree.

Courtney Sacco |

A 38-year-old Ypsilanti Township man died after crashing into a tree while driving a box truck southbound on Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti Township around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, police said.

The one-vehicle fatal crash occurred on Whittaker Road near Sea Mist Drive, said Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.

Fox said Whittaker between Merritt and Martz roads was expected to be closed for one or two hours due to the investigation.

Police said the man was pronounced dead on the scene after crossing the centerline and crashing into a tree.

“There are no tire marks, so he didn’t slam on the brakes,” said Derrick Jackson, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

The speed limit in the area is 45 mph, Jackson said. Police were continuing to interview witnesses and investigate the accident Wednesday morning. The victim's name will be released as soon as the next of kin is notified, Jackson said.

The tree the box truck hit is directly next to a tree involved in a fatal crash a few years ago, Jackson said.

Sixteen-year-old Caitlyn Varney and her cousin, 24-year-old Jessica Varney died in that accident on April 27, 2009.

More recently, a head-on collision resulted in the death of a 19-year-old Whittaker man in that same area on Sept. 22, 2012.

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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 7:52 a.m.

So scary, you'd think they would put up rails or something! I was friends with Caitlyn, we went to school together. that is a very dangerous turn, and area especially at night because of the many turns on that stretch.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

OMG - that's three people in the last few years in the same spot - isn't there something they can do with the road there?


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

How many more people have to loose their life on that stretch of road before somethings done about it? RIP


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

My thoughts and prayers to the children of this Lincoln School 1992 graduate which lost his life today!!! It's SO sad that we have to say goodbye to yet ANOTHER alumni!!! RIP!!!

Sam S Smith

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

Special thoughts and prayers for this young man, his family and friends!

Fat Bill

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

Actually, skid marks are less relevant with regard to braking. Modern vehicles use antilock brakes, skid marks are more likely to occur when a vehicle is sliding sideways. With modern vehicles...straight hard braking may not leave any marks at all...


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

Speculating on something you know nothing about is disgusting... This is a wonderful man and a very tragic loss, to all that loved him including his family and his children.. If you have nothing nice to say DON'T ...


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

I knew this man. I know his family. I think everyone should stop speculating, guessing, and jumping to conclusions. This is a terrible loss and a terrible time of grieving for all of us. So please keep your opinions to yourselves.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Agreed. My sympathies. It's a nightmare, I know.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

I know we aren't supposed to speculate, but something tells me this was a pure accident that had nothing to do with the road or the location. The number 1 suspect in an accident where there is no skid marks and a fatality is texting. The next one is a medical emergency to the driver. Personally I think medical emergency should be #1 while texting is #2, but people will speculate. Let's wait for the ME's report to determine the health of the driver before impact. I suspect think will turn out like a friend of mine from high school when her father died. The accident itself would have killed him, but the cause of the accident was a massive heart attack which killed him before he every crashed.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

This is very sad. I send my condolences to the family. Although the speedlimit is posted 45 it should not be taken at 45. As the other person stated it a tight "S" curve there compounded by very busy side streets of Merrit and Cooper Creek coming out of the sub. Thankfuly the schools are on break or this may have been a lot worse. Please slow down when traveling on Whittaker here!


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Wow, that sucks. Can't imagine what was happening that would have precluded the use of the brakes.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

i did read, at one time, on wcrc website a future round-a-bout at merritt and whittaker. i just looked, but could not locate that 'future project'


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

maybe someone should cut down the trees?

Tammy Mayrend

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

We have lived in a subdivision right there for years and have seen numerous accidents happen right there. Traffic flows too quickly and many accidents, deadly or otherwise happen. When turning off of Merrit the sight-lines are terrible. We have have numerous close-calls and avoid that intersection when at all possible.

Julia Herbst

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

As soon as I saw the photo I knew it was where Caitlyn was killed. RIP CAITLYN I miss you so much. I cannot stand to drive by that area without kissing my hand and blowing it up in the sky!!!

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

that's a bad intersection into and out of that subdivision. i've also, multiple times, complained to wcrc (washtenaw county road commision) that the shoulders get washed out. kudos to them, they do get regravelled shortly after my complaints.

Frank Lee

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

This intersection of Merritt and Whittaker has proven to be problematic over the years. If you look closely at the picture included in this article, you'll see a star on a tree and some signs attached to the opposite side of it. This is a memorial to the young ladies mentioned in the article that lost their lives at the same location years ago but were traveling in the opposite direction. The installation of guard rails and/or cutting some trees back would be beneficial. The intersection along with the various curves is bad by design. I thought I read that the county was going to redo the intersection, but all that has been done is resurfacing which only tends to increase speed of travel. My condolences to the family. Regardless of the cause, it's far too young to pass on and is a tragic loss.

Ann English

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Risky for traffic going in EITHER direction? I have to agree with you about some MORE things need to be done.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Oh man this is depressing... So if you go to the google image streetview of this intersection....the tree he's covered in memorials from the Varney accident in 2009. It does seems like more than a coincidence because people keep hitting this SAME tree....but we also should keep in mind that correlation =/= causation. Did all the accidents also share another trait besides location?


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

It is my understanding that a cause for the accident in 2009 was never determined. I seem to remember there not being any skid marks from that accident either.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Condolences to the family. The road has a deptively tight curve at this location which is further compounded by low hanging tree limbs, an intersection, and trees (as well as two homes) which tightly abut, or are within, the road Right Of Way. Combine this with drivers who are unfamiliar with the road dangers, and potentially the speed limit, and the results are multiple accidents - many with fatalities - all at this one location. Less than ideal road conditions, this morning was cold enough for black ice formation, always produces accidents at this curve.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

This is the 4th person to die in this area in the last 4 years. 3 on the same tree. People need to slow down. There are always skids marks into the woods on the west and on the grass on the east. The people who live on Copper Creek Dr have had cars hit their fences. Two weeks ago some one went off the road and took out a fire hydrant. This is all in a .1 mile section of road.

Ann English

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

The last time I drove on Whittaler was in 1996, and stopped just west of Willis, where Lincoln Consolidated High School and a church were. You don't drive fast when you're looking for an address, only when you know exactly what your destination looks like. I made a delivery to that church after finding the address. People driving to unfamiliar places? It only seems to take a longer-than-expected amount of time to get to those places, even if you don't miss any turns.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Saying a prayer for the family that will get this phone call this morning. Regardless of the circumstances behind the accident's cause, this is tragic.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

good point.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Can we all wait for the accident investigation to be completed before jumping to conclusions?


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Agreed Craig, but sometimes it hard to tell the difference.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

I would suggest speculating on possibilities isn't the same as jumping to conclusions.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.


Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2 p.m.

" crossing the centerline..... no tire marks, so he didn't slam on the brakes," I know we aren't allowed to speculate. There is certainly 2-3 possibilities that come to mind.

Ann English

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

I wonder if deer cross Whittaker Road. You know, drivers swerving to avoid hitting deer. No matter what caused this accident, it is a reminder to the rest of us to maintain our own brake systems. We could rear-end other vehicles or drive into buildings if our brakes fail. But a box truck driver, licensed for driving that sort of vehicle, would be an above-average driver.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

We're not allowed to speculate ABOUT GUILT...we can speculate about everything else all we want...only the paper itself is allowed to speculate about guilt...


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Not the first person to die on that same tree with the star


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

That's three is very recent memory. Hey, how about some guardrails?


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Tommy, good idea about the rumble strips! Smart.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Cash you could be right, but what are the chances of 3 medical incidents in this same exact spot?


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Not only guard rails, but a rumble strip down the center line would also be a help to remind people to stay in their lane.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Cinnabar....this man could have had a medical incident...or been driven off the road, etc. We do not know that he wasn't "paying attention" when he died.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

"when the box truck we was driving".............. Come on now....who proof reads?

Paprika Z

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Proofreads is one word...

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

there's a lot of breaking news then.

John Counts

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

This typo has been corrected. When we're working on breaking news, we're constantly writing and editing as more information comes in.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

At least it's just a caption...


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Typos happen -- for this to be the response regarding a fatal accident is a bit callous. A simple note to the author of the article would have been sufficient.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

I think this is the 3rd person who has died in that spot within the last few years.

Little Patience

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

@ajw, I agree with you also. High speeds, no police presence, too occupied with phones. Regardless of what happened today, my thoughts & prayers are with the drivers family. 38 is far too young to go.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

let me just add that the cause of this particular incident hasn't been released but previous accidents seem to be caused by human error


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3 p.m.

@ajw I agree...the dangerous conditions there are the result of dangerous driving. What I meant in my comment is that the road itself isn't necessarily dangerous there (clear visibility, not too sharp of a curve, the accidents that have happened seem to be in ok driving weather, not too slippery etc). I believe each of the accidents documented there have been the result of human error of some sort. @glimmertwin Have you driven that stretch? The trees are not causing the accidents. Maybe they are what's causing the deaths in the accidents but the accidents are the result if irresponsible driving.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Trees that close to the curved road without any barricade has to be a contributing factor.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

That section of road is dangerous, not so much because of the curves, but because of the drivers. People fly down through there, ignore stop signs, whip out in front of other drivers, slam on their brakes and turn with no signal. Not to mention the large number of people I see crossing over the line because they are too busy with their phones, iPods, etc, to look up and drive. Of course I never see any police patrolling that area ticketing these scary drivers. I typically do about 50 through there (yes I know 5 over) and even then I'm about getting run down by other drivers. Not to mention the number of times I've almost tboned someone turning off of one the side roads after blowing through their stop sign. I try to avoid that section of road as much as possible.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

I think you are right...although I still fail to see why this continues to happen there...I drive there often and don't see it as a particularly dangerous area.