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Posted on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Police identify woman killed in single-vehicle rollover

By Chelsea Hoedl

07162013_NEWS_M14Barton_DJB_0087 (2).jpg

A woman was pronounced dead after a single-vehicle rollover accident on M-14.

Daniel Brenner I

Related: 1 killed in single-vehicle rollover on M-14 near Barton Drive

Following a fatal single-vehicle rollover crash, the victim has been identified by authorities as 49-year-old Debra Jones, from Chicago.

The crash occurred Tuesday afternoon between the west triple interchange of M-14 and U.S. 23 and Barton Drive in Ann Arbor Township.

Police said Jones was driving a red 2001 Kia SUV when she attempted to use the left shoulder of the highway to pass a semitruck. After losing control of the vehicle, the SUV rolled over five times and struck the median wall twice.

According to police, there were no other occupants in the vehicle and no other vehicle was involved in the crash.

Jones was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police said initial investigation indicates Jones was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and alcohol is not believed to be a factor. Police said cellphone use is a possible contributing cause.

Jones’ husband stopped by the crash scene and made contact with troopers, according to police. He told troopers he was talking to his wife, on the cellphone, when she told him she was going to use the shoulder of the road to pass a vehicle.

Two witnesses observed Jones travel on the left shoulder of M-14 in an attempt to pass a semitruck.

Beaumont Medical Transportation and Livingston EMS were on scene at the crash in addition to Huron Valley Ambulance, according to HVA spokeswoman Joyce Williams.

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Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for She can be reached at


Travel Jones

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

This is my first time commenting on an article, and I just need to say this. Individual responsibility aside for a moment, I feel as a society we need to stop encouraging each other to cram as many activities into our lives as possible. We need to stop the craziness of feeling we can work full time, care for kids (and elderly parents), stay fit, eat right, and still socialize like back in the day when our lives weren't so busy. I hear folks frequently try to talk friends into an activity when they're already over booked, and exhausted, but wired on Starbucks, and they should probably just go home. We're rushing to the next baby shower, party, work event, etc, upset that we're going to be late, and for what?????


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Learn something from this, readers.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Hope people realize that that kind of dangerous agressive driving that seems so popular around Ann Arbor gets them there no faster. All the people that use the left turn lane as a passing lane or zoom past me at 10-15 MPH over the maximum speed allowed by law are caught up to and many times, passed at the next stop light or highway exit. I see it on a daily basis on Jackson Road; the speeders get to the next stop light sooner where they sit and wait while the rest of us catch up to them, don't have to wait at the light and pass the speeders. I just want to get there.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

The US23/M14 exchanges are probably one of the worst set ups for high speed vehicles - I actually really try to avoid driving these if possible


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for blaming the victim. I knew Debbie and her husband. She was a wonderful person. She was on her way to celebrate her birthday with her family. This did NOT deserve to happen to her. Whether or not you agree with her driving skills or choices, you should not be using her as an "object lesson" or an excuse to project your own fear into a public forum. It's easy to not see her as a human in a stark article, but Debbie lived, laughed, loved, and was incredibly talented. You would not wish someone to speak ill of or blame your dead friend or loved one. Try to remember that.

Chelsea Hoedl

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

SJS, thank you for speaking to the character of the victim. Details about the victim outside of the situation being reported on are often not available to us. I appreciate you sharing information about Debbie and I'm sorry for your loss.

E Claire

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Condolences to you and the family.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

SJS, I don't mean to drag this out, but you are misrepresenting what I said and what most people here are saying. No one said she was a bad person or is making assumptions about her life. If you feel otherwise, please point to an example of that. Again, in terms of lessons, that is human nature, and it is in fact how humans learn. No amount of 60 question tests at the Secretary of State or 1 hour driving tests will teach what actual life events can.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

I just want to say that it is perfectly possible for a person to make bad decisions and to also be a really great person who is much loved. No one deserves a tragic death. I have a beloved friend who died of a heroin overdose recently. Everyone is sad about that, not one person thinks this person deserved to die but everyone knows that the death was caused by a bad decision. Pretending otherwise isn't helpful at all. I firmly believe that talking about bad decisions can help people develop an awareness for the consequences of such decisions. If this conversation stops people from passing on the shoulder it will have been just as valuable as conversations about why it isn't a good idea to shoot up heroin or similar things.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

You should "Attempt to understand" in your own mind rather than make assumptions on the kind of person she is based her driving skills as reported by the news. All commenting should stop trying to understand or use her death as any sort of lesson. If you must use her death, use it to remind yourselves that none of us knows when we'll die and you should go hug your family and your loved ones a bit more and perhaps speak in a kinder manner with true respect for all life.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

SJS, pretty much everyone here is sorry for the loss of a human life - particularly in such a tragic way. For better or worse, it's human nature to analyze poor decisions in an attempt to understand and help others understand. In this particular case, it's important to reinforce the notion that passing on the left is not only illegal, it's extremely dangerous - as is driving while talking on a cell phone. It's part of a larger problem with drivers on the road today. My sister was killed by a drunk driver. The news reports, and ensuing public discussion, were aimed at trying to prevent more such tragedies. That being said, I think language is important in sensitive discussions like this. Words such as "dumb", etc. are probably not very helpful and are of course painful to read for anyone who knew her. The discussion might be better served with more carefully chosen words. Again, condolences to you and everyone else effected by this tragedy.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

Hear, hear.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

I find it amazing that so many people point to what the *victim* might have done wrong when anyone familiar with the area knows that accidents occur hear almost daily and that they're almost always serious. Are all the people who die or almost die here to blame or could it be, I don't, maybe, it's a poorly designed interchange?


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

No, it's collisions that occur almost daily, most of which are not *accidents*. That's just a euphemism in most cases.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

The sad fact is that sometimes people die for reasons which are entirely their fault. This isn't a situation where a person is being blamed for being a victim of a crime for instance which is usually where the whole "blame the victim" rhetoric comes from. This is a situation where someone made a very bad decision and quite frankly, being honest about that can help others avoid making the same decision.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

She passed at speed, on the shoulder, while talking on a cell phone. Whatever the circumstances of other accidents were, it's appropriate to talk about what made this one happen.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I guess blaming the victim is suddenly OK in the comments. Lovely.

E Claire

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Just stop Barb


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

No one is blaming anyone, people are commenting on the circumstances of the crash. I have not read anyone saying she deserved this to happen to her, only people saying it was most likely preventable given the circumstances that precipitated the accident.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

This is so very, very sad. But why in the world would someone try to pass a semi on the left shoulder of the road?? It scares me just passing them in the left lane!!

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Why is it still legal to talk and dial a cellphone while driving in Michigan? We cannot outlaw all distractions, nor can we legislate common sense. But how many cellphone related deaths does it take before a change is made?

E Claire

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

No kidding NU. I've seen car commercials recently touting touchscreens in the dash that have as many icons/apps as a tablet. It's crazy and dangerous.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

To attempt to answer aareader's question about Illinois law: texting while driving is illegal. Cellular use generally is not, except: in school zones, construction zones, if you're under 19. Chicago proper, and some individual counties and townships, do prohibit cell use. My family's suburb, for example, strictly prohibits--and happily tickets--cell use. And I'm also strongly advocate making cell use illegal and ticketing it. Just a few years ago, despite the laws in my parents' hometown, my car was totaled by a non-local driver who, while talking on a cell phone, turned left immediately in front of my path. When asked what she was thinking when she did that she claimed "I didn't see you!" I'm not aware of having a cloaking device on my car--it was her phone, and her choice to use it, that destroyed my car.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

I agree that talking on a cell phone while driving should be illegal. But.... do you think that such a law would have prevented this accident? Is talking on your cell while driving illegal in Illinois (where this driver was from?)

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

It is unfortunate that they increased the speed limit there from 55 to 65. The curves and many entry and exit points make 55 more appropriate. Though it obviously will not matter to drivers who will pass trucks on the shoulder while chatting on the cellphone.

Jim Walker

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Condolences to all the family and friends. The takeaway points are: Driving is a full time job - have the fewest possible distractions. Shoulder areas are for emergencies - not for driving/passing lanes. Use patience for a few hundred yards when the left lane has a slower vehicle. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

This is a very dangerous interchange, I drive through it almost every day. There was likely three things that contributed to this accident, 1) passing on the shoulder 2) talking on her cell phone and 3) unfamiliar with the area (she is from Chicago). This is a very sad situation, but a great teaching lesson for young drivers. I am going to discuss it with my teenage drivers, and driving schools should use this as an example of what NOT to do when driving. Please be safe out there everyone!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Is this the area on M-14 that is now 65 mph, that until fairly recently was 55 mph?


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

yes it was, until recently 55mph, and since the change it has become and even scarier area to drive through daily.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

It is right in the area where the speed change is posted from 70 to 65.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Two friends of mine have died there. One with the sun in his eyes and a truck pulled off of the right. The second a co-worker and friend had a car forced off of the west bound side, over the median and the right front tire went through his windshield along with the rest of the car following. Be careful at that interchange.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Ugh, I wish, I wish we would loose the agression. There are 3 warning signs that the lanes are ending and people still use those dissapearing lanes to pass. Dear Lord, Why?!?


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Mitch, you're didn't occur to me until your comment that she probably had run out of lane at that spot. How many times do people just linger in that left lane thinking someone will let them over at the last minute? You see it all the time. But someone talking on the phone at the same time ...... ??? I feel terrible for her husband and family.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

I have seen this being done lately (passing on the shoulder) and frankly, don't understand it. If people only knew what kinds of things are lying in wait on the shoulder to damage your wheels, tires, vehicle.... Sadly this woman found out once and forever.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

"Police said Jones was driving a red 2001 Kia SUV when she attempted to use the left shoulder of the highway to pass a semitruck. After losing control of the vehicle, the SUV rolled over five times and struck the median wall twice." What are we to take away from this? I can't say this is "rare" behavior - I've had this happen to me twice (that is, a person attempting to pass me on an unmarked shoulder) and it happened once to my wife (on 23) less than 1 month ago, prompting her to file a police report. Like many others, I've driven this stretch of road over a hundred times. I know exactly where this accident occurred, and what the conditions are when you're getting there. I know how trucks get over to the left lane on west-bound 23 early so that they can get on to 14. I have seen fast driving individuals in the left lane get bent out of shape at this. I have seen people use the entirety of the 23-14 merge area (by "entirety" I mean to include the areas not marked for travel) in order to get around "slower" vehicles (speed goes from 70 on 23 to the updated speed of 65 on 14). I can't speculate as to what goes through somebody's mind when they decide to use a lane not marked for traffic to pass individuals at high speed. What I do know is that roads are for sharing, and that no individual (barring public safety vehicles) has any particular right-of-way on our freeways.

It's hard to hide from facts

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Well said GoNavy.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

@ GoNavy: Your comments are very thoughtful and well-said, sir.

Resident A2

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

This is so tragic. It is a constant reminder that life is so precious and can be taken away in a split second. I feel so sorry for her family. My sincere condolences to her family.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:16 a.m.

Since when is it ok for everyone commenting to pass judgment on her driving? I think her poor family doesn't need to be seeing all this judgment.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Because she attempted to pass on a narrow shoulder at speed while talking on a mobile phone. That isn't speculation. It's an extremely reckless action which could have killed other people as well.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

@Barb -Calling out someone's illegal behavior (passing on the shoulder) isn't "passing judgment". It's tragic that the woman lost her life because of her dumb decision, but choices have consequences. That she likely never anticipated this outcome doesn't lessen that, and it's more than fair game for the A2 community to call her out for a choice that could have killed and/or seriously injured countless others.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Think about the truck driver. He likely knows the outcome. Much like the train engineer who has no control over the drivers who trespass train crossings and are killed, they must still live with the death. So must the truck driver who is likely at no fault. Do you think he will forget? Where was he to go in such traffic? His option is simply to watch in the mirror as the carnage ensued, and hope he does not kill or injure others if he loses control.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I'm glad to see people "passing judgement". It makes me know that most people would not have done the same thing.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Because she could easily have killed others


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

@Barb: I'll tell you why I have "passed judgment": Because I - like others from this area - have seen this *exact* behavior before. In this case, the victim was simply unlucky in that this illegal maneuver (can I assume travelling in an unmarked lane was illegal?) didn't work out. While we all share concern for the victim's family, we should not forget every other family that the victim's behavior put at risk of loss. Yesterday, it was one woman who was the victim of her own behavior. Next time, it's a family of 4 run off the road by an unknown driver (which itself was local news just over a year ago).


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:46 a.m.

I travel this exact route that this accident occurred at, in fact I witness the aftermath of the accident at 2:20 pm. For some strange reason people are is such a rush to get where they are going, instead of planning ahead the rush. There are daily accidents at this same intersection, and many refuse to respect the hazards tat cars can and do create. The moral of this accident is slow down, don't do anything behind the wheel but drive, and watch where you are going and for God sake have respect for other drivers.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

The "Moral" of the story is not to slow down. It is to use proper lanes! Speed had NOTHING to do with this!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

There's a sign at the few ticket counters still manned by people at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Though I can't quote it word-for-word, I can tell you the jist of the phrase: "Your poor planning doesn't mean that we have to move any faster."


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

I feel horrible for her family, but oh my gosh, passing on the shoulder?? I know it's frustrating to be stuck behind a truck in the passing lane, but wow.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Barb, she died and that really is horrible. However, maybe her death can help other people realize that certain behaviors such as cell phone use and passing on shoulders is dangerous. Talking about such things isn't intended to be disrespectful of the dead. The intention is to help others avoid such situations themselves.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

@Barb - Calling someone out for stupid behavior - an act of discernment - and "passing judgment" aren't the same thing.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Barb, who's passing judgement? I'm merely stating my shock.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

Passing while talking on the phone with her husband. Yeah, but don't dare judge that behaviour.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:13 a.m.

I guess you don't feel so horrible that you can't help passing judgment.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

I remember when folks used to know how to drive. Today its like unreal out there, everyday I see double lane changes at the last few seconds to make a turn. Folks squeezing in at 70 mph and nobody blows a horn--like its perfectly normal to have only a few feet of clearance. So sure, somebody doing a 3 car shoulder pass doesn't chock me...passing a semi is like doing a 3 car pass but worst since you can's squeeze in halfway if something goes wrong. Getting a drivers license is a joke today, they don't even have written test anymore for renewals


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Good comments Paul. I agree completely. I've been driving for over 40 years and it just gets worse and worse. Could it be that people just drive with their egos instead of their brains now? Or is it because driver's ed isn't taught in the schools anymore? Or more traffic and more distractions behind the wheel? We saw a jeep on the freeway the other day with a TV screen mounted behind the steering wheel and the guy was watching it...

Richard Carter

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

I've been driving since the late 70s, and I don't think in general people drive any worse (as in, they were pretty bad back then too with the crazy passing) except in one regard -- the problems when they are on a cell phone talking or texting. I've been in more near misses with people talking on their phones, for sure.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

Too much time being spent gaming and thinking those "skills" translate to operating a 1 or 2 ton machine on the public thoroughfare. And to think, GM already displayed a concept car with a joystick and no steering wheel. Then people question why I am pro-mass transit, buses and trains.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

too busy trying to avoid them to even think about hitting the horn! WAY too many crazy drivers out there.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

"Police said Jones was driving a red 2001 Kia SUV when she attempted to use the left shoulder of the highway to pass a semitruck." Wait what? There's barely even enough room for a small vehicle in that area I thought? It doesn't even really look like a lane. So she was trying to pass the semi between the wall and the lane?


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

It might depend on exactly where it is (the point on the map above is before the guardrail starts, or after it ends, depending on which way they were heading). But yeah, I don't think there are any long stretches where there is enough room to pass.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

Every Day All Across America. Out'a my way.

John of Saline

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

Russia--land of the epic dash-cam videos.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

I heard they drive worst in Russia--one country doesn't even allow women to drive


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

I think we need some cop presence around here. Some folks are getting reckless on M14 and 23. I just had a guy come right at my tail at over 90 miles per hour and getting very upset that I was in his way! I thought he burst a blodd vessel. I think Ann Arbor is on the right track- change the roads to inherently slow the traffic around town. Most of the folks are visitors anyways (including the employees at uofM). The folks who do not like it will leave A2 and go race around Novi. God bless!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

We dont need to change our roads to slow people down... not at all! Just speed up and move right except to pass. the 90mph driver was prob upset because you were a left-lane-rolling-roadblock.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

Well 95 in a 70 mph zone is a 3 point ticket, the same points for running a traffic light...maybe you need to sped up a bit and move over and let folks by and let the police worry about them


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

So much for not showing the car. See the previous article about the crash.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

I believe the argument against showing the car was because in previous articles the car was shown without the family being notified. The issue was that a family member could recognize the car even before the police notified them. Apparently in this case at the time of the first article the family wasn't notified. They have been by now, so apparently the picture can be shown.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I think it's important to see the aftermath of stupid decisions made by drivers. Plus showing the car, but not bodies, body parts, etc., makes this more real, imho. So, if seeing that picture saves a life, it's worth it. I do agree that no pictures of the vehicle should be shown until the police release the victim's information, which usually occurs AFTER the family has been notified. After that, however, it's fair game to release the pictures.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Perhaps this IS a news site? Not a simple warm and fuzzy blog with only pictures of puppies and kittens. All things in life are not wine and roses. There are consequences to actions that people should see, like passing on the shoulder. Maybe include in the story header a comment that a graphic image is part of the news or an option to not display any picture.

Richard Carter

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Perhaps showing the car is the right balance to show people just how bad this sort of pass attempt can be, without showing blood, gore, bodies.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Condolences to the family.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

"We all have more power and less control than we realize." - Ann Ward Simpson My condolences to her family and friends.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

As frustrating as it is to have a semi-truck in the passing lane, you still must abide by the rules of the road. They are there for a reason. Still, my condolences.

Amanda Zee

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

5c0++ H4d13y - this happened south of where you are thinking on the westbound side. It's after the left lane merges from 3 to 2 lanes. It's a wide shoulder at that point, so maybe she thought she could make it. But still, it definitely is not a passing lane and narrows down quickly! You are right though, that whole area is always a dangerous exchange. Mostly because people don't realize how dangerous it is and don't drive appropriately!

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Passing lane? The highway forks there into 23N to the left and M14E to the right. That's no passing lane.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

Martha, you are completely correct. They ARE there for a reason. The on ramp is 25mph and the cars are going very slow so they get over in passing lane until they get by that on ramp and immediately get back over in right lane. True story. My husband is a truck driver who has dealt with that interchange many times. Still RIP. Horrible for the husband.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

I have seen this done successfully a few times and wondered how and why. Where and when doesn't matter. I hope that her family remembers her with love and that she R.I.P


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Oh my. To be talking to the victim as the accident occurs... I can't imagine what that must feel like. So sorry.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

Honestly, how difficult is it to express condolences without making negative comments about the victim/deceased/Ms. Jones, or turning a heartfelt comment into an argument about semantics? Sheesh. Sometimes I wish that a2dotcom would turn off comments for stories involving death just so the deceased/victim's loved ones don't see them as they grieve.