Victims of Tuesday's US-127 Car Crash Remembered

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Three lives were taken unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon after a car accident on US-127 in DeWitt Township.

"I was just thinking about them, maybe a week ago, and I was busy, and didn't get a chance to call them," said Joe Jardine, a close friend of two of the victims.

Now his fraternity brother and hunting buddy since 1976, 55-year-old Larry Salzwedel, and his wife, 48-year-old Wilda, are gone after their truck crossed the median on US-127 killing them and the driver of the other vehicle.

"It's hard, you know," Jardine said. "It's like losing your own blood brother or blood sister. He, they wanted to retired early to spend more time with his grandkids. I know his family is really sad about causing the death of Mr. Cooley."

Mr. Bob Cooley was driving the van that the Salzwedels struck, The 68-year-old was a retired physical education teacher of 43 years in Okemos Elementary Schools.

"He was really proud of his jump rope club, and they would compete, and he would always call us down to watch his kids jump rope and jump rope to music," said Okemos Public School Superintendent Catherine Ash. "It was pretty phenomenal and the kids really adored him, and would do anything for him."

Mr. Cooley is remembered as a kind and genuine man, who touched the lived of students, staff, and families. In 2004, he was named Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, but he was even better known for his attire.

"Mr. Cooley was one of the best dressed teachers we had, and he was known for that," Ash said. "He always came in dressed beautifully.So, he was a well-dressed teacher and he stayed up with the times."

His legacy won't soon be forgotten.

"He has grandchildren still that attend Okemos public schools, so his family is still with us, and so obviously, we are very sad, and we will keep his family and friends in our thoughts and our prayers," Ash said.

Okemos schools sent an email to families about the loss of Mr. Cooley.

Jardine said he believes Larry Salzwedel might have had a medical condition that caused him to have a seizure before the accident, but DeWitt Township police haven't confirmed that.

Police said they do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved.


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