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Posted on Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Crash shuts U-S. 23 south of Ann Arbor

By Staff


A semi truck struck a tractor on southbound U.S. 23 Tuesday afternoon. The driver of the loader was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Daniel Brenner |

A crash involving a semi truck and loader on southbound U.S. 23 in Ann Arbor left one driver in critical condition and shut down the freeway Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

The driver of the loader was being transported to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in critical condition around 3:30 p.m. as a result of the crash, which occurred just north of Michigan Avenue, said Joyce Williams of Huron Valley Ambulance.


The skid-steer loader hit by a semi truck Tuesday sits damaged on the side of U.S. 23.

Daniel Brenner |

Southbound U.S. 23 in that area was closed as of 3:40 p.m., according to officials. The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office issued an alert at that time telling motorists to avoid the area of U.S. 23 and I-94 for the next several hours due to the traffic incident.

Debris from what appeared to be a yellow Caterpillar skid-steer loader was visible in the middle of the freeway.

"(The driver) was crossing the expressway with it when it was struck,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Mark Thompson.

Thompson said the operator of the skid-steer loader was ejected form the vehicle and suffered serious injuries. The operator "failed to yield," Thompson said.

The driver of the semi was also taken to St. Joe's with minor injuries.

Jim Harmon, director of operations for the Washtenaw County Road Commission, said a contractor has been doing mowing work in that area this week.

At 4:15 p.m., traffic on southbound U.S. 23 was backed up from the scene of the accident near I-94 north to Geddes Road with motorists getting out of the vehicles due to the length of the traffic jam.

The freeway was expected to be closed until about 7 p.m., Thompson said. More information on the incident could be released Wednesday. reporters Kyle Feldscher, John Counts and Amy Biolchini contributed to this story.

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Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

I was the car behind the semi. I noticed the man mowing turning toward the freeway, thinking....he is NOT going to try & cross. Oh yes he was, I braked & stopped in the right lane, I did not want to end up under the semi. The semi driver had no time to respond, he hit his brakes, swerved right, there was no way to avoid the bobcat. I can't even imagine what the mower driver was thinking, there was no way he was going to make it across. The sound of the semi hitting the mower was awful. I called 911 right away & thanked God for giving me the fore site to see what was going to happen. I hope both these men recover from this incident.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Are there any preliminary tox reports available? Was the operator of the mower under the influence? How can you not possibly see a SEMI TRUCK coming at you down the freeway? This is too huge of a disruption and destruction to just say oh well #%@# happens.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

It would seem that crossing a highway with a slow moving piece of equipment would be very risky. Very unfortunate.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:48 a.m.

I'm pretty sure they were moving north, they were just north of Milan in the center median near Willow Road when I went by this morning. There was a large tractor with a back mowing deck, and this bobcat kind of thing with the brushhog on the front. It was going through the heaviest stuff right down in the center of the median while the tractor had obviously been doing the outsides. I thought it seemed out of place then. Dangerous job, I hope whoever it was recovers.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

The company that does that work is KBK Landscaping and you can clearly see their logo on the skid loader.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

it's 7:30, do we have an update?


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

I work on Carpenter Rd., between Michigan Avenue and Ellsworth and have a clear view of the expressway. Traffic appears to be moving at posted speeds in both directions.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

I was in that for 45 minutes. Everything is backed up. I got off 23 at 94 and it took another 15 minutes or so just to get to State. I live in Tecumseh and it took me almost 2 hours to get home.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Trying to get my daughter to work at 3:50 near 23 and 94, it was total gridlock. At one point I ducked into the Pines of Cloverlane just to get out of it. We crossed over 94 and everything looked fine. Thank you for this story because I wondered what was going on. I hope everybody is going to be okay.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

Traffic is a pretty good mess out there. I was backed up on Hogback before it turned to Carpenter, southbound, and, yeah. Hope for a quick recovery for the driver and lots of patience for everyone commuting.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

I noticed a tractor with a side mounted mowing attachment doing weed/lawn maintenance on Huron street this morning coming into work.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

That was likely the city of Ann Arbor.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Let me just state this was NOT the Road Commission that was responsible for this accdent. So before everyone starts bad mouthing them, let it be know it was a contracted company doing the mowing for the County.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

not bad mouthing them just sayin' the dark cloud still looms overhead on Zeeb Road.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

Oh, and whose responsibility would that be? The guy holding the "slow" sign is getting paid well to do a whole lot of nothing. He's usually distracted.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

I'm just waiting for something like this to happen on Miller. Funny how the road traffic has to go 25 mph, but the construction crew drive like maniacs way too fast. They're gonna nail somebody one of these days if they haven't already. Head on.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

I suppose if they were unionized this wouldn't have happened................Was that your point?

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

Yes the evil for-profit contractor was responsible, even though they were working for the Road Commission on behalf of MDOT. That much is clear. It is much easier to criticize and deflect blame when you don't actually do the work yourself.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

Because we all know that no body is responsible for their contractors.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Gee thanks for the clarification, we weren't sure the first time it was written in the article.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

It clearly states in the article that it was a contractor, not the Road commission.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

dconkey and John counts, thanks for clearing that up for me. Hope that both drivers make quick and full recoveries.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Oops, and a thank you to zigziggityzoo too.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

Doesn't sound good at all. Prayers and good thoughts to all involved.

John Counts

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Hi WalkingJoe: The equipment was in the area doing lawn maintenance. The state police initially said the piece of equipment most resembled a Bobcat front-end loader. It appears to more closely resemble a skid-steer loader, so we've changed it. The road commission has confirmed they were doing lawn work in the area.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

Boy does that sound familiar. With the bridge out in Ypsi township on Ford Road you never know what you will see going down residential areas that should not be.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

jcj, The freeway mowing contracted out is cut more than once a year. For freeways like those in this area we used batwing and flail mowers with standard farm tractors. The highly sloped concrete canyon grass around Detroit required specialty low center of gravity equipment, but that's it. There's no need for heavy brush equipment. Our contracts were for three cuts a year to no longer than a 4" height and either 12' or 16' off the road.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

After dark This had a brush hog as an attachment.Conventional lawn equipment is not designed to cut heavier brush that is sometimes found on the xway median and shoulder. I would not call cutting weeds along the eway lawn maintenance. They do not cut the weeds as often as a lawn. The piece of equipment would be ok for the heavier stuff on the shoulder but would not usually be needed for the median.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

It's absurd to use such a piece of equipment for lawn maintenance. I worked for a company that had state contracts on the east side. Farm tractors and dedicated mowing equipment are all that are required. The lack of speed and maneuverability of this piece makes it a huge liability in proximity to a high-speed road.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

I believe this company had been doing the mowing for a couple years.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

@JohnCounts- The Road Commissione was NOT doing the lawn work. It was contracted out. So it was a new company not familiar with the area.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

WalkingJoe, A crew was mowing the median and sides in the area today. One of the pieces of equipment was type of front end loader with a mowing attachment.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Just wondering, is there construction near there? I ask because I am wondering why a Bobcat front-end loader was doing crossing the freeway. I am not trying to speculate just curious.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

There is construction all over the place. So who knows. Going to another construction site? All I know is it took an hour to get home.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:24 a.m.

That must have happened shortly after I was on 23 going north. There was a crew out mowing on both sides and there was a big Ford pick up truck in the median right before Washtenaw Ave.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

Lawn mowing.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Photo coming shortly.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Updated with a photo and the side of the highway it happened maybe, north vs south bound?