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Posted on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

County salt truck slides off icy road, injures driver trying to help stuck fire engine

By John Counts


A county truck rolled over, pinning the driver inside, Tuesday morning on Joy Road in Superior Township.

Courtesy of Washtenaw County Road Commission

A veteran driver for the Washtenaw County Road Commission was hospitalized after suffering minor injuries when his truck rolled over while he was attempting to help firefighters whose truck got stuck on an icy Superior Township road Tuesday morning, officials said.

A salt truck was called to the 5000 block of Joy Road at 9 a.m. to help after a Superior Township Fire Department truck couldn't move on the icy road, Fire Chief Jim Roberts said. The fire truck was responding to assist three motorists whose vehicle slid off the road.

The salt truck slid off the road and rolled over, and the driver, described as a 20-plus year veteran of the road commission in his 50s, was pinned in.

The windshield was cut and the driver was rescued and transported to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where he is being treated for minor injuries, said Aaron Berkholz, Superintendent of Maintenance for the road commission.


The driver of this salt truck was pinned in after it slid off icy Joy Road in Superior Township and rolled over Tuesday morning. The man was rescued through the windshield.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Road Commission

As of 11 a.m., Joy Road between Dixboro and Vorhies was closed to traffic as wreckers cleared the scene.

The trouble started in the morning when three vehicles slid off the icy, gravel road. Roberts described Joy Road east of Dixboro as having a decline before leveling out and rising into an incline. It was at this point where the fire truck got stuck.

"We couldn't go up or down," Roberts said.

The fire department called the road commission with hopes Joy could be salted or sanded to get the fire truck moving again.

The dump truck driver arrived and started spreading sand on the road, but also couldn't manage on the ice, Berkholz said. The truck flipped over onto its passenger side on the south side of Joy.

None of the nearby firefighters saw it happen.

"It being as foggy as it was, they did not see it," Berkholz said.

A motorist headed westbound on Joy saw the dump truck on its side in the ditch and called 911, alerting the nearby firefighters of the driver's plight. They cut the windshield out of the truck and pulled the man out through the opening. He was then taken to the hospital by Huron Valley Ambulance.

Berkholz said an occurrence like this is "very infrequent" for the road commission.

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



Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

The road looks pretty level in the picture. Not like Maple Road north of the Huron River where they banked it severely and have ditches on the sides. I remember a school bus driver was blamed for tipping over the bus on that stretch not long ago. But that was different heh?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

I live on a gravel road and it was very bad on Monday morning. It was still icy in spots on Tuesday. Kudos to all the road commission employees who work in these conditions to try to keep us safe! I always feel better when I see the salt trucks out!


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Salt truck slips off of road? Student reports "drugs" in drink after vomiting? Are you sure you guys aren't copying Onion stories, and not AP stories?

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Unfortunately it does seem like that somedays GoNavy.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

Water on top of ice--- no truck or car four wheel or not can gain traction on that road condition.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

But it was a passing motorist who alerted the firefighters to the truck. Sounds like someone was getting through. I wonder how much sand the truck driver had managed to put down before the truck slid off the road?

Ann English

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Unusual weather conditions for winter and unusual accidents go together. During last winter, which was the fifth mildest winter for the county since records began being kept, a school bus started spinning on what I had always considered a safe slope on North Maple , and fell over on one side.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

Hopefully the driver is okay, they all work very hard. Wonder how the money spent on a new yard location in the future is working out instead of using those funds on road improvements/truck drivers/equipment operators. If bicycle riders had to pay to ride the public roads that would make more funds available also. Vehicular traffic has to pay drive, make the bicycle riders pay and generate more money for roads - they're on them too, using "bike paths."


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:01 a.m.

Most of those bike riders have vehicles to, and they sure don't tear up the roads like trucks and cars do.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

the department head will probably try and discipline the driver for not following some kind of rules, protocol, or something in the union contract.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

So, because of budget cuts and refusal to pay higher gas taxes, we can't afford to pave as many roads. But sometimes the gravel roads get so bad that emergency vehicles can't even move on them - even a County road crew truck slides off the road. Seems like there's some lesson about penny-wise and pound-foolish here. Hopefully no one was seriously hurt and no one suffered much from both the salt truck and fire truck being unavailable.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

If the fire truck was stuck you would have thought the county truck would have put chains on when he got to the gravel road.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

You want your road paved? Pay for it. Some people prefer a gravel road because it keeps the tourists out.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Should have been there last year when a bus got stuck off Scio Church road. Stuck and the salt truck is at the top of the road with no where to go but down. Children had to walk to the top to get to another bus waiting. They got the bus out once the salt melted. Dirt roads are no fun.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

No comment.....


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Oh sorry to not comment on your relatives MGOBLUEMOMMA. So I decided I would comment after yours to me.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Mark that on the calender......


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.


Dennis Guttman

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Salt truck slides off icy road... How ironic


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Is the driver going to be ticketed for the accident ? If it was some private contractor plowing driveways there be a full investigation. How much damage was done to the truck?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

trucks can be replaced. People can't.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

So we get get ticketed for accidents now? There was no wrong doing.....he slid off the road.

Concerned Neighbor

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Paul, it's called an accident for a reason....not an on purpose ! !


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

Ticketed for what? Doing his job and having an accident?

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Paul as this happened just this morning there is now more information available at this time.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

A full investigation by WHO?

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

good lord, how did the school buses manage this morning ,those back roads can get really slippery when it rains on snow. hope our dedicated driver heals soon. thanks to him for his service.

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

@jcj oh thats how


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

But on days when the weather is nasty and school is open? We take it nice and slow. Joy Road is no joy when the roads turn ugly. Sounds like a song coming on.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

music The way they managed was to stay off the roads! Ann Arbor schools were closed today.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

True, other drivers passed through without getting stuck, what was going on with the firetruck, why did it get stuck. You gotta pay attention to the road at all times while moving along.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

In extremely slippery conditions it is common practice for plow drivers to drive backward down the road, allowing the rear-mounted sand spreader to deposit sand in the truck's path.

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

I hope the driver has a speedy recovery. Fortunately this did not happen on Geddes Avenue near Hickory Lane where the roadbed is deteriorating and much of the shoulder has washed down a +30' embankment. The westbound lane looks like the underlying roadbed has eroded to about a 20 % cross slope and there is no guardrail to prevent a vehicle from sliding down the embankment. Please drive carefully in this area.

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

I spoke with Roy Townsend, director of the road commission yesterday, about the challenges that gravel roads pose to road crews. They can't use salt to thaw the ice, and instead spread gravel and then work to grade the road to a manageable level. The frozen ground means the snow -- which is compacted into ice -- sticks around longer than it would on paved roadways, even with warmer temperatures and rainfall. Yesterday Townsend said his crews were working on gravel roads across the county. It takes road crews longer to service gravel roads than paved roads, according to Townsend.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

What she said. Then after finding out where this is? No duh on Joy Road. This is one of the worst roads to get icy. Another fun ride when the roads go south. Need to pave them all.

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

As noted in the story, the road commission also spreads sand on gravel roads.

Superior Twp voter

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

That must have been a helpless few moments..... sliding, then tipping over. Glad our driver is (relatively) O K.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Sorry to hear that those employees out there trying to make our lives safer and more bearable to travel had such bad experiences. Thank you to all of these people making our lives safer.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Glad the driver only suffered minor injuries. I do have a question, was it the firefighters who were stuck the ones that got him out?

John Counts

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

It was indeed. The story has been updated to reflect this.