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Posted on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 6 a.m.

University of Michigan doctor stops to help in multi-vehicle accident on I-94

By Tom Perkins

David Grainger can't recall much in the moments after a high-speed car crash on I-94 earlier this month.

But what Grainger does remember after being involved in the Feb. 13 accident came as a great relief. Dr. Ed Wilkins, a reconstructive surgeon at the University of Michigan Hospital, came to his side.

Wilkins informed Grainger he was a trained doctor and told him not to worry. Wilkins then began working to get the 51-year-old Utah resident onto a blanket.

The crash occurred as Grainger was traveling eastbound on I-94 at about 2 p.m. Feb. 13 with three friend - all of whom live in Utah - to look into real estate development possibilities in Detroit.

According to the Michigan State Police, Grainger’s car rear-ended a Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Investigators couldn't determine the speed of Grainger's car because there were no skidmarks.

One of the responding officers, Sgt. Chris Pascoe, said it appeared a driver cut off another car several vehicles ahead of the rented Camry that Grainger was traveling in. Pascoe said the driver of the Camry never saw the minivan ahead quickly hit the brakes.

The Camry slammed into the rear end of the minivan driven by a 43-year-old Ann Arbor woman. Her van hit another vehicle, and all the vehicles were knocked several hundred feet off the road, according to witness statements.

Pascoe said both cars were totaled, and all four men were transported to the U-M Hospital, while the woman driving the van and another person were taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

“Of course it’s going to make you elated to hear that a doctor stopped,” Grainger said. “It was awesome. He was there within minutes of me remembering what was going on, and I can remember him helping my friend and making sure he wasn’t going into shock. That’s all I remember.”


Dr. Ed Wilkins

Wilkins said Grainger appeared headed toward hypothermia, and although medical authorities say to never move traffic accident victims before first responders arrive, Wilkins knew how to proceed.

He log-rolled Grainger onto blankets while keeping traction on his neck to prevent further damage if Grainger had a spinal injury. He made certain Grainger’s head, neck and back remained in a single axis, which Wilkins said is essential in preventing injury.

“He was on his side in the snow and looked extremely pale and cold,” Wilkins said. “I felt we needed to keep him off snow onto something warmer. But unless people have trauma training, they should not try to move anyone hurt in an accident at all.”

Grainger, who was released from the hospital Saturday after spending a week there, said he has only briefly spoken with his friends and doesn't know the extent of their injuries. No information on any of other injuries was available from police or U-M Hospital officials.

Pascoe applauded Wilkins for helping to make sure everyone was secure before the first responders arrived.

“I was grateful he had everything under control when we got there,” Pascoe said. “I thought it was neat that he had taken his coat off and was making sure the gentleman didn’t hurt himself anymore.”

Wilkins said several other motorists stopped and donated their coats and blankets. He also commended the first responders for arriving so quickly.

“The other people who stopped who were very helpful, and the first responders were there within five minutes,” he said. “Their response time was very quick.”

“Once the pros get there and get to work, the best thing I can do is get out of the way.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 11:16 p.m.

Because the driver of the Camry was driving too close to the minivan ahead and/or not paying sufficient attention, five people were injured and required hospitalization. Shame!


Thu, Feb 25, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

Cheers to Dr. Wilkins for his fine work in lending a helping hand. While the accident may or may not have been precipitated by aggressive driving by a car ahead, it likely came to pass for one simple reason. The vehicles were following too closely to one another and did not have sufficient time to respond to the events that unfolded. If there had been more space between the vehicles, each of the drivers would have had the time to slow down at a reasonable rate and avoid being hit from behind. Slow down and leave some space, people! Two seconds of gap is the minimum on a clear dry road. (remember driver ed?) On a slick surface, four makes more sense. Let's all arrive alive.


Thu, Feb 25, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

Despite the accident & subsequent injuries likely being caused by someone's aggressive driving, this turned out to be a positive news story, thanks to Dr. Wilkins and all the others who stopped to lend a hand, coat, or blanket. We know they're out there, but it's still nice to hear about people who aren't too busy or impatient to stop to help someone in need. Thank you all.

Thick Candy Shell

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

@Lokalisierung, your obvious liberal leaning makes you sound some what bitter. Apparently, you do not understand the laws of the land. It was an accident on the road. Michigan No-Fault law says that it will not be paid by his insurance or the normal insurance system. It will be paid by his automotive insurance and if need be for the rest of his life. That is why our insurance rates are so high!


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Good job Doc! If there is a bright side to somthing like this the victim probably saved $10,000 by having this off duty doc work on him. He still had to stay a week in the hospital so he's probably broke, but alive.

Marjorie Winkelman Lesko

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Thank you Dr. Wilkins. How wonderful that others stopped as well to lend a hand ( or a blanket). Let's hope those who were injured are recovering well.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

"With anti-lock brakes there are no skid marks" They were driving a Toyota, maybe the "braking program" wasn't running on the computer at the time.;)

scooter dog

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

With anti-lock brakes there are no skid marks!!!!!!!!,thats why the came up with them so you do not slide and maintain control

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

The term "first responder" was used several times in the story. I would contend as a trained medical doctor Dr Wilkins was the first responder.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 6:59 a.m.

Kudoes to Dr Wilkins!!!! He sure lived up to the Hippocratic Oath he took when he became a physician.