Police: Public played key role in helping US-23 crash victims; 911 tapes offer no clues to hit-and-run
Warning: The second 911 call contains descriptions of where victims were found following Friday afternoon's crash. Reader discretion is advised.
Ashley Siegel's age has been correct. She was 11, not 12.
Police say 911 calls made after Friday's crash that killed two Royal Oak children reveal nothing about a second vehicle involved in the crash, though they help emphasize the public's role in the immediate response to the tragedy and the search for a hit-and-run suspect.
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derrick Jackson said the calls were two of about 15 similar calls made to Washtenaw County dispatchers reporting the accident just after 3 p.m. Friday on southbound US-23 south of Michigan Avenue.
The Michigan State Police are calling the incident a hit-and-run crash and are still searching for a woman who was driving a silver Honda Odyssey that they believe moved into the victims' lane.
None of the 911 calls following the crash mentions a hit and run or a suspect vehicle, according to Jackson.
However, the first caller in the audio recordings presented at the end of this story mentioned a number of people who had stopped on the side of the highway to help the injured victims. The second caller gave an accurate description of how many people were injured in the crash. Officials said Tuesday that both calls - along with others -helped ambulance, police and fire crews appropriately respond to the crash.
Witnesses and the driver of the 1999 Ford Expedition, Dawn Siegel, told police the Odyssey drove away after sideswiping the full-size SUV, causing the Expedition to roll several times and end up upside down in the median. Siegel was driving with her four children and two step-children.
Jordan Siegel, 14, and Ashley Siegel, 11, were both declared dead at the scene of the crash. Their funerals were scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Police are calling the severity of the accident "exceptionally violent." However, the public's response has provided critical assistance.
The first 911 call indicates a number of people stopped at the scene of the accident and attempted to help out the family. Huron Valley Ambulance spokeswoman Joyce Williams said these bystanders can play a vital role in medical personnel’s response to a tragic accident.
“There are always things bystanders can do,” she said. “They can fetch equipment, they can stay with people who are clearly shaken up.
"People are able to hold someone’s hand or just stay with them, because people are going to be very upset and in shock, and to have one person focusing on them (helps).”
Huron Valley Ambulance dispatchers often ask for a 911 caller’s name, phone number, address and the location of the emergency they’re reporting before getting into details, Williams said.
Often, the number of people who are injured in an accident or incident and the severity of their injuries is the most important thing for medical personnel to know when heading to a scene, she said.
Dispatchers will often want to know if injured people are breathing or bleeding to prepare first responders as well, she said.
“If you have an accident, then you want to know how many people (are injured),” she said. “That’s one of the biggest things we’ve gotta know. If we have a lot of patients, we need to send more units.”
Jackson said deputies are usually most concerned about the seriousness of the injuries in an accident. With the level of “traffic accident” ranging from mild fender bender to the tragic situation on US-23 on Friday, it’s important for deputies to know how serious the situation is.
“The more information the deputies have the better prepared they are to respond,” he said. “If they’re responding to a suspect fleeing, more information about the potential suspect (can allow) them to be looking for the suspect as they approach the scene.”
Michigan State Police investigators are still looking for any information that can lead to an arrest in the case. The woman driving the Honda Odyssey, reported to be silver with heavy front-end damage, was described as being in her 40s, according to police.
Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587) or the Michigan State Police Brighton Post at 810-227-1051. If calling the post, ask for Trooper Nolan Pryzyblo, the lead investigator on the case.
Funeral services for the children were arranged by the Dorfman Chapel in Farmington Hills.