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Posted on Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

45-car crash closes US-23 south of Milan

By Bob Needham


The scene on northbound US-23 near Milan about 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

photo by Jill Tewsley

Northbound US-23 was closed for about two hours Saturday afternoon south of Plank Road in Milan after a chain-reaction crash that spanned about 45 vehicles.

The freeway was being reopened at about 2 p.m., Milan Fire Chief Bob Stevens said just after returning from the scene. Two fairly serious injuries and 5 less serious injuries resulted from the crash, Stevens said.

Huron Valley Ambulance spokesperson Joyce Williams said two patients were taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in stable condition following the crash.

A band of heavy snow passed through the area in late morning and was expected to cause difficult driving conditions.

Stevens said the incident began with a Monroe County sheriff's deputy helping a stranded motorist along northbound US-23 near the Plank Road exit. A passing motorist lost control and that vehicle spun out, causing chain-reaction crashes.

"It escalated into about 45 cars," Stevens said. "It just got extremely slick out there all of a sudden."

US-23 was closed briefly in both directions, with the initial northbound closure extending to the Ohio state line. The northbound lanes remained closed south of Plank Road for about 2 hours while rescue workers tended to the injured and helped clear up the situation.


Traffic at a standstill on northbound US-23 just south of the Milan exit early Saturday afternoon.

photo by Jill Tewsley

Milan resident Jill Tewsley spoke to while stuck in the closure. The main accident took place right around noon and appeared to be several cars in front of her family's, very close to the Plank Road exit, she said.

"There was a white-out when the accident happened, and it was difficult for the cars behind to stop," Tewsley said. She said her family could hear other collisions behind them as vehicles struggled to stop after the initial crash.

She said several police and fire departments and ambulances were on the scene.

"The response teams were incredible," Tewsley said, responding quickly and efficiently as they checked for injuries.

Although Tewsley said southbound traffic as well as northbound was stopped for a time, by 12:50 some southbound traffic was again getting through. The northbound lanes remained at a standstill.

South of the main crash site, "along northbound 23 there were 2 other minor accidents, with one patient transported," Stevens said.

Agencies responding to the crashes included the Milan Fire Department, the Dundee Fire Department, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, the Michigan State Police and Monroe County Ambulance.

Possible snow squalls throughout Saturday afternoon will continue to create potentially hazardous driving conditions, according to the National Weather Service.



Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Drivers think because it says 70 miles per hour that that is the speed they can go regardless of the road conditions. When will they ever learn?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

And I quote! "Stevens said the incident began with a Monroe County sheriff's deputy helping a stranded motorist along northbound US-23 near the Plank Road exit. A passing motorist lost control and that vehicle spun out, causing chain-reaction crashes. "It escalated into about 45 cars," Stevens said I SURE HOPE THIS IDIOT DRIVER WAS GIVEN A TICKET. They obviously did NOT move over a lane and give the cop enough room. How pathetic.

Tom Todd

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

lots of folks can't drive in any type of snow conditions how sad for this area.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Maybe the driver DID move over and how the accident happen. If you can not safety switch lanes , you can stay in your lane if you slow way down. I see too many drivers who act like they have to switch lanes no matter what. That is not what the law says, you just need to slow way down as you pass an emergency vehicle if you can not safety move over. As far as tickets, how about for all who crashed ? That min 55 mph limit isn't in effect during bad weather, you should be going 45 mph max if the snow is coming down hard. 35 mph even, you still get to where you are going much quicker going 35 mph then being in a 45 car crash for hours. Drivers used to know that many years ago


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

"The response teams were incredible," Tewsley said, responding quickly and efficiently as they checked for injuries. What did she find 'incredible' about quickness and efficiency? What did she expect, a dsiplay of bumbling incompetence?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

I have always said lighter snow is much more dangerous than a large amount. I wonder where all those commenters who complain about reporting zvbout an inch of snow in the forecast are now? THIS is the reason even small weather situations need to be reported. Hearing about icy driving conditions on the freeways earlier today prior to this accident made me change some plans for going out.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

I was driving south on U.S. 23 toward Geddes shortly after the accidents on U.S. 23 near Geddes. I was in the right lane and decided to exit and Geddes and continue to Washtenaw away from U.S. 23. It wasn't necessary, but once I'd signaled, I exited U.S. 23. One of the damaged cars had a completely destroyed trunk area, another was farther off the road and I couldn't detect problems. I was concentrating on my own driving, but did see the approach of a car with a single light flashing on top. I think I saw two ambulances there and one wasn't from Huron Valley Ambulance. I could be mistaken because in such situations concentrating on our own driving takes precedence. I'm glad the ambulances weren't needed and I'm glad the ambulances came on the scene promptly in case they were needed.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

I was driving up from Monroe and I was around there at 11:45. A lot of cars had their hazard lights on. Driving by, I could see some cars that had run off the road, and I was almost one of them because I almost lost control of my car. I was sliding everywhere, especially when I hit the brakes (thank god for anti-lock brakes). If I would've left Monroe 10 minutes later, I probably would've been caught up in this mess.

Bob Needham

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

The freeway is now being reopened, according to the Milan fire chief. The story will be updated ASAP

Bob Needham

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Also, the Google Traffic map for the area now shows clear sailing through that stretch.

Bob Needham

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

Yes, it should be now. When I spoke to the fire chief just after 2:00 he said it was almost fully reopened. And Jill Tewsley, who spoke to me from the scene, is now safely home with her family!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Is US 23 open from Dundee to Ann Arbor? I have a daughter who is trying to weave around and get home.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

A Facebook friend just reported she was in a pileup accident on 94 somewhere near Willow Run Airport.

Bob Needham

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

Thanks for the additional information! Sounds like a bad situation. I'm still working on getting details about the extent of things, but both Monroe County and the city of Milan were understandably too busy to talk when I called. I should have some information about injuries from Huron Valley Ambulance in a little while, and I'll add that in ASAP.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Thanks for the report. I live in Milan and noticed the backup from Dexter Street. My husband is visiting friends south of us, and I was able to warn him to avoid the area on his way home. Not everyone who reads lives in Ann Arbor. I appreciate your coverage of the surrounding area.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

It's a really bad chain reaction accident. My daughter was driving up from Ohio on 23 when she came upon this big accident scene. She said she saw brake lights and flashers ahead of her, and about 10-15 cars hit; there were 7-8 in the right-hand side ditch, and 3-4 in the left-hand side ditch. She saw several more cars that had crashed into each other, blocking the roadway. She tried to stop to avoid hitting vehicles, and she said she was unable to stop because of the slippery conditions. There were several cars "bumping each other" and she managed to squeeze through a small gap that was created in the roadway by cars hitting other vehicles. Several cars behind her also squeezed through, before more cars crashed into each other behind her, blocking the roadway. She called me from the roadside, but she is okay, and her car was untouched.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Yo GoNavy, You might be a little off in your self-righteous, judgmental reply. How do you know how quickly the conditions changed? If one is driving at the speed limit on dry roadway and without warning encounters a white-out or glare ice conditions, one can't always immediately slow to the proper speed limit. I drove through that area 20 minutes after the freeway was re-opened and throughout my 3+ hour return trip from Ohio yesterday, we encountered several sudden white-out conditions. Fortunately there was no ice and I was able to slow down and not cause or encounter any accidents. But that's due to good fortune. Or maybe I'm guilty of similar assumptions. Maybe I'm incorrect -- maybe you WERE in the car with DNB's daughter. Share your opions as opinions, not presumed facts, please.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Sounds like your daughter was driving unsafely - as in, under the illusion of safety." You say: "She tried to stop to avoid hitting vehicles, and she said she was unable to stop because of the slippery conditions." Incorrect: She was unable to stop because she was going too fast for the conditions at the time. She might have been doing so for miles - driving too fast for the conditions, unaware that she had insufficient stopping power should things change rapidly. Your daughter was lucky - she was able to avoid a collision - but her experience should serve as a lesson to everybody who drives at 80 mph 15 feet from the car in front of them - you only *think* you're driving safely because you haven't been put in a dangerous situation.

Paula Gardner

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Happy that your daughter is Ok. Thank you for sharing this.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Wow. Buy a lottery ticket quick!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Could someone fix J Tewsley's is laying on its side :(

Bob Needham

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

done, thanks


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Thanks I have to keep looking at this computer until I know what would close 20 some miles of freeway :(


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Hey.....I made my comment before there was any info on what happened