Drivers Stuck in Traffic for Hours Following I-96 Accident

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

Westbound I-96 is back open Monday night following a major accident involving two semi-trucks and a Greyhound bus, but not before it backed up traffic for several miles.

The backups forced many drivers to either wait it out or try to find another route.

Police said the first semi hit the bus before being rear-ended by the second semi in between the entrance and exit ramps at M-66 in Ionia County.

Barry Brussell said he was at the scene of the accident moments after it happened. Brussell works for a towing company often tasked with towing vehicles involved in accidents on I-96.

"It was just incredible the amount of damage," he said. "The truck was totally disintegrated, the floorboards had come apart and the driver had went through the floor and underneath the truck."

That driver was air-lifted to a Grand Rapids hospital.

Meanwhile, on surface roads like M-66 and Grand River Ave. near the freeway traffic was much heavier than usual with drivers who were trying to avoid the tie-ups.

Jason Russell who driving home to Grand Rapids from Lansing where he works said he avoided the highway but still ran into backups.

He said he especially needed a break after being stuck for more than an hour in the traffic while driving a stick-shift.

"I got stuck on Grand River here in Ionia where everybody's jammed up so I decided to stop in here and sit in the air conditioning and wait it out for awhile," he said.

Russell was one of several people who stopped at the Corner Landing Bar & Grill on the corner of Grand River Ave. and M-66.

"It took me about two hours to go two miles to the next exit," said Kate Saler who was on her way to Grand Rapids at the time.

"I finally got here and saw it and said 'I need to get some water.'"

The restaurant providing an oasis of sorts, just one of only a few businesses in the area enjoying the extra activity from the traffic.

Saler said employees had been welcoming in people all day who had been detoured by the crash.

"I pulled in here and they were very kind to me," she said. "They got me a whole pitcher of ice water and even let me stand in their freezer."

And while Saler was able to cool down from the heat, her car wasn't so lucky.

"My car broke down so I guess the stress was too much for two hours of being stuck in the heat and traffic," she said.

With the stretch of highway now reopen again, there's still no word yet on what led to the accident though some officials speculating construction in the area might have played a factor.

Investigations are still ongoing.


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