ORLEANS TOWNSHIP — Two people were injured in an accident today when their car struck a tree after attempting to switch drivers mid-drive as the vehicle traveled eastbound on W. Belding Road (M-44).
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the one-car accident that occurred at approximately 3:45 p.m. today between Decker and Flannigan roads.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, preliminary investigation shows that the two occupants, a 22-year-old male from Greenville and a 20-year old woman from Ionia, were eastbound on Belding Road driving a teal 2002 Pontiac Grand Am when the occupants began to switch seats. In doing so the 20-year-old woman lost control of the vehicle and slid off the road striking a tree.
The woman was partially ejected from the vehicle and the man was pinned in, requiring the Jaws of Life, administered by the Belding Fire Department, to free him from the vehicle.
The man was flown to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids via AeroMed and is currently listed in stable condition.
The woman was transported by Rockford Ambulance to Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville with non-life threatening injuries.
Orleans Township resident Sandy Housserman lives across the street from where the accident occurred and was the first to call 911.
“It was terrifying,” Housserman said. “I heard the tires squealing, I looked out my bedroom window and they were already losing control. They were going pretty fast and completely lost it. Then —boom — there was dust flying and they hit the tree.”
Houseserman said her husband, Doug Housserman, was working in the garage and ran across the street to assist as soon as he heard the crash and was quickly helped by several emergency responders who stopped to assist.
“I’ve seen a lot of deaths on this road,” she said. “We’ve had several fatalities through here. I really just hope they’re OK.”
Speed and alcohol are not considered to be factors in the accident.
Seatbelts were not worn at the time of the accident.
The accident remains under investigation.
Also assisting at the scene were the Orleans Township Fire Department, Michigan State Police and Lowell Ambulance.