A section of Hancock Road, west of Montague, was washed away after the culvert failed because of the melting snow. Two men were driving when their car plunged into the collapsed roadway. Neither were serious injured.
WHITE RIVER TWP. – Two Montague men escaped serious injury, even death, after the car they were in plunged 25 feet into a washed out section of rural Hancock Road, west of Montague, and into the icy rushing waters of Pierson Drain.
The accident happened in the dark early morning hours Wednesday.
Kyle Cloutier, and his passenger and friend, Nikoli Wallace, both 20-years-old, were headed east on Hancock Road at 3:45 a.m., about 500 feet of Chase Road, when the car they were in plunged into the collapsed 20-foot section of roadway. The 1999 Chrysler 300 nose-dived and landed at the bottom on top of the washed out culvert. The vehicle was mostly submerged in the cold waters.
It is believed the culvert had failed with the rushing waters from a fast snow melt resulting from temperatures reading into the low 50s on Tuesday, followed by heavy rains overnight.
Cloutier, according to the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department report, said he was able to locate the door handle in the cold water which had rushed into the car and opened the door. He said he crawled to the bank. Cloutier said Nikoli was also able to get out of the car and they were able to call 911 from Nikoli’s waterproof cell phone which he had in his pants pocket.
Montague City Police Officer Walt DeBruyn was the first on the scene, and said he saw the two men sitting on the metal culvert next to the car.
Montague Fire Department was dispatched to the scene and rescue personnel used a ladder to bring the men to the surface. Both men were wet and cold, but had no serious injuries. They were taken to Hackley Hospital campus of Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, and were treated for hypothermia and minor injuries. They were released later Wednesday.
Eagle Towing of Montague was called to the scene by the Muskegon County Road Commission for removal of the car. At 8:45 a.m., tow trucks arrived at the scene, and planning for the removal began. Operations started at 9:20 a.m. by pulling the vehicle north five feet to reposition it so it could be uprighted and pulled up. The car was then re-hooked and lifted up along the bank until it reached road level. Then, a medium sized wrecker was used to pull the vehicle forward onto stable ground. The operation took 47 minutes.
“It was easier then were had originally thought,” said Andrew Heykoop of Eagle Towing. “We thought we might have to use a crane to get the car out.”
The road commission placed barriers at the washout, and closed to through traffic, a section of the paved, two-lane county road from Chase Road to Indian Bay Road. According to the accident report, the road commission, at this time, does not have a time frame as when the roadway would be repaired.