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Posted on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Head-on collision kills 18-year-old driver in Ypsilanti Township

By Cindy Heflin


Washtenaw County sheriff's deputies investigate at the scene of a fatal car crash Saturday afternoon in Ypsilanti Township.

Courtney Sacco |

An 18-year-old Whittaker man died Saturday afternoon when the car he was driving hit another head-on on Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti Township, Ypsilanti Sheriff's deputies said.


One of the vehicles involved in a fatal crash Saturday near Whittaker and Merritt roads.

Courtney Sacco |

The man was driving south on Whittaker Road at a high rate of speed about 2:30 p.m. when his vehicle crossed the centerline near Merritt Road and struck another vehicle head-on, sheriff's deputies said in a press release.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, sheriff’s deputies said. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition with minor injuries Saturday night, deputies said in the release.

Ypsilanti Township Fire Capt. Brad Johnson said Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took the injured driver, a woman, to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township. She was driving a Ford Explorer, he said. The other vehicle was an older model four-door sedan, he said.

He said the crash appeared to have occurred just south of the intersection with Merritt Road.

Speed was a contributing factor to the crash, sheriff’s deputies said.

Both drivers appeared to have been wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, said Washtenaw County sheriff’s Sgt. Geoffrey Fox.

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Cindy Heflin is associate news director at Contact her at 734-623-2572 or or follow her on Twitter.



Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

My heart goes out to those involved with the accident. I travel this section of road daily, and know that it is quite dangerous even under the best of circumstances. That being said, I fear for those who are mourning the victim and the fact that today at 4:10 when I went through the area, there were half a dozen girls spraypainting memorials on the road. Many drivers had to slow down or stop, because they kept walking into the road to finish their handiwork. Honor your friend by not becoming a victim yourself!


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

This is another unfortunate accident on a stretch of road that is notorious for being dangerous. Between Merritt and Martz (about 1/4 mile from Merritt) there are also a lot of accident. I doubt lowering the speed limit will help unless there is a consistent police presence as most people already travel this section of road going about 60 mph. I've lived in this area my entire life and have known a lot of people who were injured in accidents in this area. It's gotten far worse since Willis Rd was closed (more traffic traveling at high rates of speed in an already dangerous area), and since the neighborhoods were put built in the 1990s. There needs to be something meaningful done that will be effective and long term. When I was in high school in that area at least 10 students were either killed and severely injured on this stretch of road. I hope that someone does do something that will make this road safer for everyone who travels this road. On a side note...does anyone know how much longer the Willis Rd. bridge is going to be closed? It was supposed to reopen before school started.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

I thought the were plans to add a traffic circle at Whittaker and Merritt. Any idea when the Road Commission plans to start that project?

Steven Taylor

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Thanks for the link, but the impression I get from the article provided just above seems to be for mains type improvements and perhaps a bit of resurfacing type work. I doubt it would include things such as guardrails, curbs widening of the roadway etc.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

@bj23 There was plans to fix that section of road

Steven Taylor

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.

I am sad that another teenager has lost his life however, according to the sheriffs dept which responded and is listed in this article. The deceased was likely traveling at a high rate of speed. As for completely moving the traffic pattern as lefty mentioned it's not feasible due to expense, Whittaker has always traveled on that route even before the subdivision was created (whittaker village and the northern ends of Green Farms) Merritt road has a stop sign from either direction because Whittaker has the "blind curve" allowing it to continue without stopping. Would you further suggest lowering the rural speed limit from the 45 which it is currently at? As with most posted rural roadways in Michigan. As for a traffic circle going in at Whittaker it's not exactly feasible because one parcel (50 acres) is farmland (privately owned, up for sale) and then the northwestern end is also a privately owned parcel. A traffic circle would require the widening of the entire intersection. Common sense would dictate as you approach a curve, you slow down. I wager this teenager likely didn't do so, as the accident occurred or came to rest, south of the intersection. The vehicle the teen was driving according to the above picture also appears to have perhaps traded paint with another object in the past (See the replacement mis-colored front right quarter panel). As an private investigator this case appears rather cut and dry. I'd love for someone to find fault with my assessment. (Aside from the typical, "you weren't there so you don't know") I imagine the accident report will bear out my statements.

Valerie Owens

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

ai called 911 when it happened I was visiting my in-laws that day and they are directly behind merrit and whittacker road


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

I will go down to the Ypsilanti town hall to file for a petition tomorrow or Tuesday. I just talked to the victim's father and he was happy to see someone who can get this petition started. I hope someone there can help us with a solution to make the area a safer place such as a traffic light or stop sign or reduce speed limit or expand the street lanes or something. I drove by again tonight (after dark) and I saw many people gathering to light candles for the victim. Someone who made a beautiful cross for him as well. I felt sad and happy at the same time.

Valerie Owens

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

next time you speak with him please let him know my prayers go out to him and his family, when i saw the accident I was thinking about his family


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

Pretty sure you shouldn't bother contacting Ypsilanti (City of or Township). The authority in control of speed limits is MDOT. Good luck.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

This is a sad story. So many young drivers lose their lives. We really should spend more time and resources educating them. That being said, that is a dangerous intersection. The township should have forced the developer to reroute Merritt Rd. So that it intersects Whitaker at a 90 degree angle. There's too much fast traffic and not enough visability.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

I witnessed many accidents in that same spot in the last decade. There are flowers and teddy bears on the other side of the road, knowing someone lost his or her live there. Now this! I feel for this man's family and friends. Last year I lost my father in a fatal car accident. I hope you will join me to stop by the Ypsilanti Township office to request lowering the speed limit for this area.

Tom Todd

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Tragic loss of life. Why are we in such a hurry nowadays for what?


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of those involved in this accident. I am not normally in that area, but happened to have driven through about an hour befor the accident. I would guess the curve of the road combined with the rain and the apparent high rate of speed were enough to lead to an accident regardless of the condition of the tires. Even on a dry day I could see this area being somewhat difficult to navigate.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Did the front left tire blow out suddenly ?


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I saw the car up close. Billy is correct.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

The way it's tilted it looks like there's much more severe damage on the other side of the vehicle beyond a tire being blown out.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

Noticing the patchwork body panel on the escort makes me wonder if it had really cheap used rubber on it too. That could have also been a contributing factor to the crash....especially combined with speed.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Patchwork means cheap tires? He has a very caring mother, she would not have let him drive on bald tires regardless.

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Welcome to accident investigation amateur hour. In my experience, bald out-of-round tires and a worn out struts work just fine on dry pavement.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:30 a.m.

Completely shocked and incredibly sad...He was great kid who made a lot of people smile. He will be missed terribly


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

Thoughts & prayers go out to the victims of this terrible accident. So very sad to hear of such a young life ending so quickly.