Treacherous ice-slickened roadways across the Detroit area caused numerous accidents Friday, including fatal crashes on Interstate 75 and in rural Lapeer County that left two people dead and others injured. Parts of several freeways were closed.
AAA Michigan received about 700 calls Friday morning, mostly for accidents and spinouts, spokeswoman Nancy Cain said.
"Most of the calls came just before drive time," Cain said. "We think some people might have been surprised by the conditions. It didn't look icy."
Portions of I-75, the Lodge Freeway and I-94 in the city were closed for a time during Friday's morning rush hour. Sections of the Southfield Freeway in Dearborn and I-96 in Livingston County's Howell also were shut down, as were portions of U.S.-23 in Washtenaw County.
On I-75 near Warren Avenue in Detroit, a car heading northbound lost control and slammed into the rear of a semi-tractor, according to Michigan State Police. Witnesses told troopers that the car's driver stepped out of the vehicle, collapsed and later died. His name was not released. Speed appeared to be a factor in the crash, state police said.
The Lapeer County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Friday that Anastasia Bader, 16, of Columbiaville died and four others were injured, including her 14-year-old sister, in a morning accident that involved three vehicles in Mayfield Township. The township is north of Lapeer, about 45 miles from Detroit.
A sergeant was nearby on another accident scene when he saw the car being driven by Bader lose control after she hit the brakes to avoid two deer and struck a tree. Two vehicles also slid and struck her car.
Investigators say weather likely contributed to the crashes, with rain and below-freezing temperatures.
Morning commute drivers heading from Detroit's western suburbs into the downtown area via I-96 initially were greeted with sunny skies and steadily moving traffic, but digital signs mounted on the sides of the four-lane freeway provided a pause: "Use Caution. Winter Conditions. Multiple Accidents."
Drivers who neared the city encountered just that, as the skies grayed, rain pocked windshields and the pavement became slick with spinout accidents visible on the roadway with the city's high rises in the distance.
Streets in Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township were particularly icy, especially in some subdivisions.
Woodward heading into downtown was slowed for several miles as many motorists used it as an alternative route into Detroit. Detroit streets were less ice-covered than those in the suburbs.
"I left a little bit earlier than I normally do," said Mara Beverwyk, who lives just north of Detroit in Ferndale and works downtown. "It was a bit slow. The roads looked pretty well taken care of."
More rain was expected, but temperatures were forecast to reach into the low 40s, according to the National Weather Service in Oakland County's White Lake Township. A winter advisory is in effect for mid- and northern Michigan.
Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub in Detroit and Mike Householder in Livonia contributed to this report.