Greenville man dies in crash that leaves two others seriously injured

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:07 am on Thursday, July 26, 2012

Three people were injured in a two-car accident Wednesday evening in Eureka Township on M-91 south of Snows Lake Road and north of Greenbriar Estates Mobile Home Park. — Daily News/Cory Smith


Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Trooper Pat Agema investigates the scene of a two-car accident on M-91 Wednesday evening. — Daily News/Cory Smith

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — One person has died from injuries sustained in a Wednesday evening crash on M-91, which left two others seriously injured.

The head-on collision happened around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday on M-91 south of Snows Lake Road and north of the Greenbriar Estates Mobile Home Park.

“This was a very serious accident with very serious injuries,” said Greenville Department of Public Safety Director Mike Pousack.

The vehicles included a blue Ford F-150 custom pickup truck, driven by Philip Albert of Belding, and a sky blue Ford Freestar van containing driver Kenneth Wheelock and Athalie Wheelock both of Greenville.

Albert and Kenneth Wheelock were pinned in and had to be extricated from their vehicles.

Athalie Wheelock and Albert were transported to Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville while Kenneth Wheelock was transported by AeroMed to a Grand Rapids hospital from the Greenville Municipal Airport, where he died from his injuries.

According to Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Trooper Pat Agema, the accident appears to have been caused by a “vehicle malfunction.”

A sky-blue Ford Freestar van was traveling south on M-91 south of Greenville when it was struck by an oncoming pickup truck Wednesday evening. — Daily News/Cory Smith

“It appears the front left tire of the pickup blew as it was traveling northbound on M-91,” he said. “The vehicle then veered into the southbound lane where it struck the oncoming van head-on.”

John Newman, who lives at the Greenbriar Estates Mobile Home Park, said he was the second person on the scene and immediately grabbed his cell phone to call 911 when he heard the accident.

“I was on the other side of the trailer park and as soon as I heard the noise, I knew what had happened,” Newman said. “I knew there was a bad accident.”

Newman said he “took off running” toward the accident just north of the mobile home park to help in any way he could.

“Somebody was standing in the road talking to the guy in the truck,” he said. “Once I knew he was OK, I ran over to the van. There was an older gentleman in the driver’s seat. I picked his head up a little bit and tried to coach him through everything.”

Newman said the man asked for help several times and Newman repeatedly told him to remain calm until emergency personal arrived.

A blue Ford F-150 custom pickup truck traveling northbound on M-91 south of Greenville struck an oncoming van after the front left tire blew and forced the vehicle into the southbound lane. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Newman said the man’s leg was jammed in the driver’s side door.

“I was with him for about 25 minutes,” he said. “Then they were able to get him out of the vehicle with the Jaws of Life.”

Though beer cans were among several items of debris at the scene, Agema said alcohol “was not likely” a factor citing that the cans appeared to be from an older date.

“We won’t know for sure until we investigate further, but at this time it does not appear that alcohol or speeding was a factor in this accident,” Agema said.

All three passengers were wearing seatbelts.

M-91 was closed for several hours while investigators were called in.

The Michigan State Police Lakeview Post handled the scene and received assistance from the Greenville Department of Public Safety, Belding Fire Department, Belding Police Department and Emergency Medical Services.

The Michigan State Police will continue to investigate the incident.

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