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Posted on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

Driver critically injured when runaway trailer strikes car on south side of Ann Arbor

By Cindy Heflin

A woman was critically injured in a crash Thursday afternoon when a runaway trailer struck her vehicle and pushed it off the ramp from eastbound Interstate 94 at South State Street on the south side of Ann Arbor, firefighters said.

The car ended up on its roof and partially submerged in water along the roadway, Pittsfield Township firefighters said in a press release.

The crash happened about 4:35 Thursday afternoon when an enclosed trailer came lose from the vehicle that had been towing it while traveling south on State Street. The trailer struck the driver’s side door of the car, which was waiting to turn south from the ramp onto State Street and pushed it off the roadway into a creek just south of the ramp, firefighters said.

Bystanders pulled the 49-year-old woman from the vehicle. Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took her to the University of Michigan Hospital, where she was believed to be in critical condition.

Southbound State Street was reduced to one lane of traffic for about two hours, firefighters said.

The car was leaking gasoline into the creek, firefighters said, so they placed booms in the water to contain the spill and notified the Washtenaw County Drain Commission.

View Crash 08/08/2012 in a larger map

Cindy Heflin is associate news director at Contact her at or 734-623-2572 or follow her on Twitter.



Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

@ Harley B. Rider, re: "Maybe it's time to test and license drivers before they can legally pull a trailer of any size??" I agree wholeheartedly. I once nonchalantly loaded up a big trailer with about 12,000 pounds of materials, and headed off down M-14 towards the river towards US-23 North. The trailer started wagging, and tried to pass me. Hitting the trailer's brakes just as it wagged back to center would have helped, but I was new to electric brakes, and hadn't taken the time to practice with them. It worked out fine in the end, but it was a sobering experience! And too many drivers leave the trailer sitting for 9 months, then expect the trailer's battery — which powers the electric brakes in a breakaway situation — to be fully charged. Heck, most drivers don't really know if there is a battery in that little black box — they tend to get stolen.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

You would only need to be "trailer tested" if you drive a vehicle that has a trailer hitch. Years ago I had a Chauffeurs license and the test included questions on trailers. But then they broke the license into multiple licenses for specific professional drivers. So I stopped carrying the C endorsement. There are certain "skills" that are needed to pull a trailer and many people don't actually know them! Maybe there is a need for a "Personal Trailer" endorsement for the driver license like we do for motor cycles. In addition now you can get a permanent trailer tag for the plate of personal trailers so they are never safety inspected!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

truvk driver hit a bump going over 94, back of trailer hit ground, trailr wobbled then came loose went from left lane to right lane, picked up speed going down hill on south side of 94 (on state). hit car who was on off ramp waiting to make right turn, flipped it into creek


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Not sure. But it was right on top of 94 in left lane. Go iggles


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

I wonder if the "bump" could possibly be a very large pot-hole?

Harley B. Rider

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

I hope for a speedy and full recovery for the victim. I don't know anything about this incident, other than what I have read, so there is a possibility that the driver of the vehicle towing the trailer was doing everything right and this was just a "freak accident". However, in a 38 year career in law enforcement, much of which was directly involved in crash investigation, I have found that many, if not most, of those who pull trailers take the whole process for granted. I've seen far too many trailers with no, or inadequate, safety chains; poorly maintained brakes' no break-away breaking mechanism, or improperly maintained mechanism; and one of the most significant problems – improper loading. I policed a fatal many years ago where the trailer was loaded with lumber sticking off the back of the trailer so more than half the total weight was behind the trailer axle. The trailer started to "wag the dog" and came loose (no ball lock), broke the "safety chains" (swing set variety), crossed the road and went through the windshield of an oncoming car. Maybe it's time to test and license drivers before they can legally pull a trailer of any size??

Jen pitcher

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

Thank you for your concern. My Mother in Law is in a different ER right now getting a second opinion as U of M did not listen to her and gave her NO pain meds or food the entire time she was there

Jen pitcher

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:06 a.m.

the police report states that the trailer had faulty (old/rusty) chains that broke and now my Mother in Law is serious pain and is at another ER getting a second opinion. The trailer was filled with "landscaping material"... her car is 100% totaled I am thankful for the witnesses who stayed and got her out of the car as she was upside down in water. All she wanted was a taco on her way home and ow she has to go through this...


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

If the trailer had two axles it should have trailer axle brakes. If so these either malfunctioned or were not connected causing them to not function at all. When a trailer comes loose like that it causes a pin to be pulled from a mechanism that then activates the brakes on the runaway trailer.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Driver was upside down in car in creek/ditch next to off ramp driver was helped out of upside down vehicle and walked up to area closer to road. She was conscious and talking. Police and Ambulance then showed up

Paul Taylor

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Gw, you should be hired by!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Thanks so much!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

GW.....It sounds like you were a witness. The injured woman is my daughter's Mother-In-Law. The family is not getting any information from either the hospital or police. Can you tell me anything else that I can pass on to her family? Was she alert at the scene? Anything more about the truck pulling the trailer? Anything else?

Jen pitcher

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

@ GW and others expressing concern for her, First I want to thank everyone for your thoughts & prayers, & 2 the witnesses that stayed on the scene 2 help her out of the car. if you have any info about who actually got her out of the car (as the drivers door was unable to be opened). Please let me know you can email me with anything you can remember ( just put in the subject line "Michelle's accident. My Mom in Law was taken 2 U of M & they released her this morning. They gave her NO PAIN MEDS or FOOD the while she was there & at shift change the new nurse came in & said "oh you are still here?". (all she wanted was a taco & this happened to one of the most loving person in my life) She is now at another ER getting a 2nd opinion because she is in serious pain. I am very angry with U of M for neglecting 2 listen 2 her about her pain & doing something 2 make her comfortable. We got no info from anyone just worried when she didn't make it home, until the hospital called her fiance at 10 pm & told him she was in a neck brace but wouldn't give him anymore information cause they aren't married yet. So I stepped in this morning and got the ER nurses to take me seriously.... They tried to say she can return to work on Sunday 8/12/12 & told her she cant do stairs or lift more then 5 lbs. She told the ER Dr. that Our office is on the 2nd floor & there are no elevator so she HAS to go up and down stairs all day long but they disregarded this when they faxed me the "report" from her stay at U of M. I have the police report and the other party is clearly to blame. On the police report it says the trailer chains were old/rusty. I had to go and try to get her belongings from the car & the minute I saw it I broke down in tears & thanked God that she survived. This was her only transportation to get to and from work everyday. Thank goodness I am her asst' & ca

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

Nancy, you have my sympathy. seems to me that if anyone has a right to information it's your daughter, son-in-law, and family in general!! Ridiculous that no one is telling you anything! shame on them all! sure hope someone comes forward. you're all in my prayers. may she make a full recovery, amen....will I get deleted because of that last "amen".....?


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Ron, take your national campaign someplace else. What do horse trailers manufacturing standards in Canada or New Zealand have to do with anything regarding this article? Weird.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

Large white trailer. Chains snapped off at trailer

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

What happened to the safety chains?


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Chains were used. But snapped,I don't know much about chains, these looked thin

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

My thought exactlly. People keep whining about all the safety rules and laws, but guess what...they serve a purpose. Why use safety chains? After all, it's your trailer and you have a right to use it any way you want. Ummm...Nope. There are other people on the planet. Wake up and use that danged chains!!!!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

I'm not sure, but I think you have to put them on in order for them to work.

Paul Taylor

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Thank you!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

First and foremost I hope the lady makes a full recovery. It is critical to check and recheck a trailer connection before leaving. I do not know what happened here it is possible something broke that the driver could not have foreseen.

Jen pitcher

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

My Mother in law is now at a different ER getting a second opinion as U of M neglected to listen to her and give her any pain meds or food the entire time she was there.

Paul Taylor

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

What kind of trailer? Uhaul? Landscaping equipment?


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

I believe it was a landscaping trailer.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

The trailer came loose going south on state street over 94. The driver was only going 40 mph. However the trailer picked up speed going downhill. It it wen from the left lane to the right lane and broadsided the car. The car was sitting at the edge of the of ramp waiting to turn right on state. The car got flipped over and pushed upside down into the creek.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

only 40? The speed limit there is 35 and with a (loaded?) trailer... What's the requirement for trailer brakes?


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

I hope she is okay. I saw the car on the side of the road afterward and it looked pretty bad. I wonder how fast the truck pulling the trailer was going for the trailer to have hit her so hard that her car left the roadway and flipped over?