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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Minivan dragged 16 miles after rear-ending semi trailer amid heavy snow, police say

courtesy photo/Roscommon County Sheriff's Office
Article thanks to Heidi Fenton and Links provided: 

1/7/2015  ROSCOMMON COUNTY, MI -- A minivan with four occupants was dragged 16 miles by a semi truck early Wednesday after the driver rear-ended the rig, then called 911 while still moving down the road, police say.
Roscommon sheriff's deputies were dispatched at 1:57 a.m. Jan. 7 after dispatchers received an emergency call from the minivan driver who had reportedly rear-ended a semi truck on I-75 due to poor visibility from heavily falling snow.
The caller's minivan became lodged under the semi trailer and was being pulled down I-75, unbeknownst to the truck driver, police say.
Occupants of the mini-van could not see due to snow and were unable to tell dispatchers exactly where they were.
Both Roscommon and Crawford County sheriff's deputies began a search for the two vehicles and Crawford deputies came upon the large rig south of Grayling on northbound I-75.
Deputies alerted the semi driver to stop and the driver did so without incident. Authorities soon determined the original crash had occurred 16 miles back.
Four people inside the mini-van were taken to Grayling Mercy Hospital for evaluation, but they did not appear to have any serious injuries, police said.
The Grayling area is under an advisory for significant winter weather Wednesday as temperatures were at 1 degree, with blowing snow and lake effect snowfall expected.

courtesy photo/Roscommon County Sheriff's Office
ROSCOMMON, MI -- Hours after returning home from the hospital, after the adrenaline had worn off and reality had set in, Matthew Menz could hardly believe his family was dragged in their minivan for 16 miles behind a semi truck Wednesday morning.
And he began to comprehend that they survived the harrowing scenario.
Matthew Menz, his wife of 26 years, Pamela Menz, and their 26-year-old son and 22-year-old daughter escaped the frightening ordeal with only some soreness and bumps and bruises.
"I didn't allow my brain to go down that pathway where I would panic," Matthew Menz said, explaining how he focused only on the task at hand early Wednesday. "It felt like an eternity."
The Menz family had spent several weeks in Tampa while visiting family for Christmas and flew in to Flint's Bishop International Airport late Tuesday night. They then got into their minian for a two-hour drive north to their home in Roscommon.
By Matthew Menz's estimates, the family was only about 10 minutes from their house when they encountered a snow squall on northbound I-75 about 1:50 a.m. Jan. 7. Suddenly, a semi truck appeared ahead. It was barely moving, Matthew Menz said.
He braked but could not stop in time to avoid rear-ending the trailer. It had no hazard lights on to help with visibility, said Menz.
He swerved right at the last minute, but the left side of his Toyota Sienna's front hood lodged under the semi trailer. And the truck was still moving, pulling the mini-van along.
Pamela Menz called 911 and explained to a dispatcher what was happening as her husband moved the wheel to the left and right, trying to direct it away from the trailer. It was no use, he later said.
Matthew Menz and his wife stayed calm as they talked dispatchers through the situation and waited for sheriff's deputies to arrive. Matthew Menz, a truck driver for more than 20 years, could hardly believe the driver of this truck did not see him.
He wonders now what the driver was thinking, barely moving in white-out conditions on the highway without hazard lights. If the driver felt he could not drive, he should have pulled over, gotten off the road.
"Our responsibility (as truck drivers) is safety to the public and communication," Matthew Menz said.
Police did not allow him to speak with the driver so he does not know what that person was thinking at the time.
After a 23-minute conversation with dispatchers, police located the semi and pulled the driver over in Crawford County, near Grayling. Matthew Menz was told to stay in his seat for a few minutes to allow the adrenaline to wear down.
He later noticed his tires were worn down to the metal and his van covered all around in what he estimates to be three or four inches of snow.
"It just looked like a great big snowball from all the blowoff," Matthew Menz said. "It could have been dramatically worse ... somebody was watching out for us."
The family returned home hours later after being seen at a Grayling hospital.

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