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Posted on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

State police release name of driver killed in U.S. 23 crash

By Kyle Feldscher


Workers right a trailer that turned over onto a car, killing its driver, on U.S. 23 Monday.

Melanie Maxwell |

Michigan State Police have released the name of the man killed in a crash on southbound U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor Monday afternoon when a semitrailer rolled over onto his car.

James Wallace, 58 from Lennon, Mich., was pronounced dead just after 2 p.m. Monday on southbound U.S. 23 and Six Mile Road. Sgt. Mark Thompson, of the Brighton Post of the Michigan State Police, said the investigation into the accident is ongoing.

“Preliminary investigation indicates the left front steering tire (on the semi truck) blew out and caused the driver to lose control and strike the vehicle,” Thompson said.

The crash occurred at 1 p.m. Monday as rain fell in the Northfield Township area. The semi truck with two trailers pinned Wallace’s 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser against the guardrail and overturned.

The freeway was closed between Six Mile and Eight Mile roads for approximately four hours while police investigated the accident at the scene.

The trailer stayed on top of the PT Cruiser for about an hour after the crash until emergency crews used two heavy-duty tow trucks to turn it right-side up. The scrap metal inside the trailer spilled out onto the roadway and the PT Cruiser.

The Washtenaw County Technical Rescue Team responded to the crash, along with state police troopers, Northfield Township firefighters and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics.

The crash was the first of several on U.S. 23 in the Ann Arbor area Monday. During the afternoon commute, dispatchers reported as many as four crashes on the freeway.

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



Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 6:28 a.m.

Decent folk are naturally saddened to learn of such a death as that of Mr. James Wallace. But we don't know anything about him except that he was 58 and was a resident of the small village of Lennon (pop. ~ 500). That means he was probably born in 1955, probably graduated high school in 1973. And that he was probably driving from the vicinity of Lennon (5 mi. W. of Flint & a good 40 mi. N. of ? Ann Arbor) on the day of his fatal accident. I think it's good to think of this because we can imagine him as a human being, living a life not unlike our own. I find it therefore regrettable that several comments go far beyond this and make rather bold statements calling for more truck control and even banning trucks. Truck controls? Truck bans? And since the truck involved had an extra capacity attachment, those too should be totally banned. Sounds familiar doesn't it? The NHTSA says there are only about 3700 such fatalities annually. But I'm sure those making the call for more truck control laws and banning of these fear inspiring "assault trucks" would also say: "If just one life can be saved by more truck control or an outright ban on the most dangerous trucks and extra capacity truck attachments, then was must do all we can to impose such measures." It's only reasonable, right? It doesn't matter that MDOT says Michigan has the safest trucking standards, what do they know? And thus speak the kind of people who would bless us all, benighted trucking companies included, with their ineffable wisdom. Yeah, that sounds familiar alright.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

The last trailer of a double or triple rig is much more sensitive to steering input. Generally (with a single trailer) you do not lose control when a front tire blows but with doubles, the second trailer can get jerked around a lot. It looks like this is what happened: the last trailer tipped over. Several states allow three trailers. You have to be a very smooth driver with these. I have been behind a triple when the driver jerked the steering and the last trailer swerved so hard wheels lifted off the ground on one side. I do not have data for this, so it is just my opinion: double bottom bulk haulers are more unstable than double dry vans. They are short and top heavy. They are also usually empty or full. Both have their control issues. Faster speeds compound control problems. Maybe double bottom bulk haulers need to be speed limited (and thusly banned from interstates). We do allow very heavy, single trailer, multi axel bulk haulers which, big as they are, are probably safer. I do not see where the economic advantage of using double bulk trailers outweighs the safety of single trailers. Maybe someone who knows can provide some information on this.

Honest Abe

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.



Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

Hopefully there will be a criminal investigation....... Wonder if the truck was overloaded and if not, were the tires worn more than they were supposed to be?

ypsi 1

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

justcurious is correct in the weight ratio to rubber width is better in Michigan that other states. That means that there is actually less wear on each square inch of pavement and more control of the vehicle itself. Where Michigan fails is not requiring frequent inspections for truck safety like tire wear., brake adjustment, suspension and other critical devices. Stop cutting the MDOT and give them the teeth to get the bad rigs off the roads!

Frank Lee

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

I am amazed at how many people have made negative comments that clearly have little knowledge of DOT regulations or the effects of a blow out on the steer axle of a vehicle. This tragic accident has little to do with the type of vehicle involved. It has everything to do with the blow out of a steer tire. A steer tire blow out on ANY vehicle will produce the same results but may be more severe with increased vehicle weight. Because of this, it is illegal to run recapped tires on the steer axle of a commercial vehicle. To get an idea of the effects of a blown out steer tire, feel free to drain all the air out of one of your front tires and go for a drive. Now imagine traveling 55Mph with two fully inflated front tires and instantly losing all the air pressure in one of them. The steering wheel will more than likely yank out of your hands, but if you're lucky enough to be able to hang on to it, you'll have very little control of your vehicle and a major pull towards the side of your blow out. I'm willing to bet the bank that it was the front left steer tire that blew out on this commercial vehicle. Had it been the front right tire and the truck crashed off the shoulder of the freeway, there will be very little call for an outright ban of gravel trains or double trailers. This is nothing more than a tragic accident. If the trucking company is found to be in violation of any law, they will pay the price. Unfortunately accidents still happen with all vehicles. Let's not be in such a big hurry to point fingers. My condolences to the Wallace family.

Retiree Newcomer

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Doles Michigan require that commercial vehicles (trucks) be inspected? If not, it should. How many dangerous big rigs are on our roads - with bad tires, bad brakes, etc.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

It is against Federal law for any company to re-tread front steering tires for all vehicles so that was not an issue in this crash. My husband drives a big truck and knew exactly what happened when I told him about the accident. When a front steering tire blows it is very difficult to control, even in a car. My prayers go out to the family of James Wallace and the driver of the truck. I am sure this has changed both of their lives forever. Thank you to all those who were out there trying to help in that awful weather.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Please don't blame the truck drivers or the trucks or the weight limits. This was a tragic accident that happened. My condolences to the Wallace family and the truck driver and their family. I have posted this before:,4616,7-151-14011-28111--F,00.html I have heard that Michigan truck weight laws are the most liberal in the nation. Is this true?   Answer: Michigan permits trucks up to 164,000 pounds on the system. However, different than other states, Michigan requires a lower weight per axle which more evenly distributes the load and reduces wear and tear on roads. MDOT engineers have thoroughly studied this issue and the result of this research is that heavier trucks do not cause a disproportionate amount of damage as long as the weight is evenly distributed over an appropriate number of axles. Additionally, trucks over 80,000 pounds make up only less than 5% of all trucks operating on our roads. If Michigan were to reduce it's truck weight laws to 80,000 pounds, more damage to the system may occur because of the need to put more trucks on the road. More trucks on the road raise serious questions concerning safety and traffic congestion. Several other states are currently looking at Michigan's axle weight laws and are considering adopting similar laws."

Frank Lee

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Justcurious – I couldn't agree with you more, and thank you for providing that information. It is also worth noting that you can be ticketed for any one axle being over weight.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

Of course any settlement can't restore the lost years of Mr. Wallace's life.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

I believe the suggestion was to sue the truck company, not the trucker (unless the trucker is independent). I assume the law firm consulted would investigate the situation before suing and the law firm hired should only be a law firm that believes it's a case worth taking. Thus, it should only be a law firm that doesn't charge the plaintiff any money and only get paid via a percent of money collected from the defendant. The equipment provided by the truck company may have been inadequate for safe driving and there needs to be investigation into whether that was the situation.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

I only hope the Wallace family sues the trucking company for every penny it has from here into the future. This type of accident should have never happened if the truck was properly maintained in the first place. I see way to many of these trucks with bad tires on the road. The freeways are littered with blown out rubber.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

I do hope that the front tires on these large rigs are not re-capped. All too often we see the remains of tires from semis on the highway or next to the road. I had a rear tire blow and come off of a truck while I was passing. A lot of dirt and noise was the only negative result. So sorry for this man's family and the driver of the rig.

Linda Peck

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Yes, put the freight on trains and keep these rigs off the roads.

Frank Lee

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

And how do you propose we get this freight from the rail yard to its final destination?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

Michigan's maximum truck weight of 164,000 pounds — more than twice the federal weight limit — is the nation's highest. Does the shift in weight of the load that is TWICE the federal limit, when a tire blows make an accident more deadly?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

And we wonder why the roads are in the conditions there in.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

So sorry for the family. I''ve always been told to stay way back of any Semi truck in case they blow a tire. But even a car tire can cause one to loose control. I know these gravel hauler pay $3500.00 a year for license plates and the ones that tear up the roads are the out of state trucks who pay NOTHING. We are the only state around Michigan that does NOT have toll roads. Lets start having toll roads like OHIO. Let all these out of state trucks pay and quit burdening our residents with higher road tax.

Mike Ruddy

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

These double trailer trucks not only destroy the roads, they kill everyone who gets in their path.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

They should look into the tires on these vehicles. If it was a retread, it should never have been used in a steering location. The state has probably cut back on truck inspections to give businesses a break. Call SAM!


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 4:04 a.m.

Lot of speculation there, Jamie. I know that the MSP reconstructionists will look at the tires. A fatal crash investigation is handled like a homicide. They are very in depth.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Don't call Sam, big mistake, so many better personal injury attorneys out there.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

My sympathies to the Wallace family. What a terrible tragedy. I'm often fearful of the safety around many trucks and carriers. I think US 23 is one of the scariest highways in the country. It has too many speeders and tailgaters.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Very sad set of circumstances for both the family of Mr Wallace and the driver. Steering tires are very critical in any kind of trucking regardless of vehicle size. By my limited experience and knowledge they are of better quality and re-caps are outlawed in most states, if not all. However, it all goes away with low pressure and heat builds up and the tire blows through the sidewall. Yes, I believe there should be restrictions on pulling pups. If the State Police spent a little more time on Ann Arbor Saline Rd, Parker Rd, and Pleasant Lake Rd in the early morning hours I'm sure they wood come up with something, including a few cracked windshields.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Wasn't there a law at one time that only allowed those double tandem trucks to travel at night between certain hours? My prayers are with the family.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

Such a tragic happening. I feel very lucky as I live there at Barker Rd and just left my house and could not have been more than 5 minutes ahead of that accident. Yes, don't blame the trucks as an accident could happen with any vehicle. I drive that route twice a day and more often than not, the potential accidents would be more from speeders and weavers than the semis. It's worse during the rush hour times of course and the ramp from Barker onto 23 is far to short to try to merge safely


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Just a note to all, if you read the article, the crash resulted from a front steering tire blow out on the semi. So it doesn't really have anything to do with being a double trailer, over-loaded, or anything like that. Any large semi traveling at high speed that has a front steering tire blow out is going to slide out of control. Very tragic.

Ann English

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

You're saying it was a driver's side tire, in front of the driver, that blew. I see now that it wasn't the factor of scrap metal being transported in the trailers, causing a blowout. Metal is heavier than other materials taking up the same amount of space, but those tires carrying it were suited for doing so. The only time I saw a semitrailer's tire blow, it was on the passenger side and it was on a trailer, not on the semi part itself. That might explain why that semi driver did not lose control of his trailers on northbound US-23 last year.

Rick Stevens

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Thanks Cash.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Michigan's maximum truck weight of 164,000 pounds — more than twice the federal weight limit — is the nation's highest. If Snyder isn't talking about weight limits, the Michigan Department of Transportation is reminding the state's motorists of an indisputable truth: Generous truck weight limits contribute to the roadways' deterioration. Do they contribute to accidents as well when that weight shifts?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

A double semi trailer is way harder to control with a blowout than a regular 18 wheeler, though they are difficult too. It's that back unsteerable trailer that did the damage here.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Semis and gravel trains drive very fast even in wet weather like during this accident. Perhaps they should obey the speed limits so when the unforseen happens, like a blowout, they might be able to control their multi-ton rigs better. Perhaps this driver was below the limit but in rain everyone should slow down even more. Meanwhile I am going to take the side roads.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

If that's true then we should consider controling these trucks so we can minimize the likely hood of more tragedies. If they go out of control when losing one tire then what can we do to prevent the tires from blowing out? Eliminate retreads? Require frequent installations of new tires. Reduce the speed? It makes no sense to me to simply wait until the next tire blows and hope the truck driver is the only one injured. US-23 has way too many of these type of accidents to ignore.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

My condolences to Mr. Wallace's family. This is so sad. Is there a reason so many crashes occur on US 23? I don't drive it often, but I've noticed how narrow it is in some places, with curves, and how scary merging can be.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

rsa221, US 23 is a two lane expressway used by four lanes of traffic between Brighton and Ann Arbor. I rarely use it, preferring to take the safer route of "old" US 23 called Whitmore Lake Road.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

I think US 23 is one of the scariest highways! People drive way too fast and tailgate, too . Don't drivers remember the distance between vehicles rule? Yikes, so many drivers tailgate in Michigan!


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Michigan allows the heaviest semi trucks on its roads. If they are going to allow these huge interstate trains in our state, then they should ban retreaded tires. Putting the heaviest loads on the cheapest tires is a recipe for disaster, as this unfortunate accident proved.

Frank Lee

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

It is already illegal to run recapped tires on the steer axle of a commercial vehicle. The least amount of load weight is on the steer axle. This unfortunate accident "proved" nothing that supports your comment. While a ban on recapped tires and a reducing in max gross vehicle weight might gain the support of many, it has nothing to do with this accident.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE An interesting article sheds light on the weight of semi loads in Michigan. Is that not only destroying roads, but also and more importantly causing a danger on the roads with shifting loads?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Retreads illegal an steering axle... you are a tad late with the idea

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

your " heaviest loads on the cheapest tires" conclusion is faulty. The story says the front left tire blew which has the same weight load in Michigan as anywhere. Also did I miss a reference to retreads in the story?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

I am prayers go out to Mr. Wallace's family and friends. My husband hear to crash, from work, and from what Sgt. Mark Thompson said is just what my husband thought happened. You just never no when it maybe your turn to go so tell the ones you love that you love them every chance you get. My Mr. Wallces rest in peace.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Condolences to the family, but this is a good reminder to the rest of us to maintain your spacial cushion on our roadways. When driving, distance = time = more chance to react.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

RIP, Mr. Wallace and condolences to his family and friends. There was nothing Mr. Wallace could have done other than not be driving on U.S. 23 at the same time as the truck. If trucks with double trailers are harder to control than single trailer semis, laws regarding trucks on roads need to be reviewed. It's obvious that businesses save money by hiring one driver for the equivalent of two loads. A few days ago I needed to pass a double trailer UPS truck. Do these businesses endanger the occupants of other vehicles in order to save money?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Perhaps you can explain to those less knowledgeable about spacial (sic) relationships how we increase the spacial (sic) cushion while passing.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

It's about time that the double trailer semis are banned from Michigan roads. I've lost count of the times being behind a double trailer rig with the rear trailer wildly swerving back and forth. You quickly pass by, hoping the rear trailer does not tip over. This is a menace that should see its days on the highways come to an end.

Frank Lee

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

I am amazed at how many people have given this comment a thumbs up or posted similar comments. This tragic accident has nothing to do with the type of vehicle involved. It has everything to do with the blow out of a steer tire. A blow out on the steer tire of any vehicle would produce the same results. Feel free to drain all the air out of one of your front tires and go for a drive. Now imagine traveling 55Mph with two fully inflated front tires and instantly losing all the air pressure in one of them. The steering wheel will more than likely yank out of your hands, but if you're lucky enough to be able to hang on to it, you'll have very little control of your vehicle and a major pull towards the side of your blow out. I'm willing to bet the bank that it was the front left steer tire that blew out. Had it been the front right tire and the truck crash off the shoulder of the freeway, there will be very little call for an outright ban of gravel trains or double trailers. This is nothing more than a tragic accident and I support the sentiments of djacks24. The DOT imposes tread depth requirements as well as a retread ban on the steer tires of commercial vehicles to avoid such an accident. Unfortunately accidents still happen with all vehicles. My condolences to the Wallace family.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

I totally agree, my brother. Double trailer rigs are overly dangerous and this tragic event just underlines how bad they are. This is just a tragic accident and shows how vulnerable we all are while driving Michigan highways.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

So your comment has what to do with the cause of this accident and steering tire blowing? Definitely not the platform for your soap box rant on gravel trains.