State police: 100 crashes in four hours in Metro Detroit

Staff and wire reports
Interstate-696 at Mound Road

Detroit Icy roads in Metro Detroit overnight preceded more than 100 crashes in about four hours on area freeways, Michigan State Police said Wednesday morning.

One death was also blamed on the weather. A number of school districts canceled classes for the day because of the road conditions.

Lt. Mike Shaw, a Metro Detroit spokesman and commander for the state police, tweeted: Since midnight Second District Troopers have handled approximately 100 crashes on the freeways and the 9 townships we patrol. Our calls for service are through the roof. And one patrol car that was hit by a citizen that was driving too fast! Take it easy people.

That tweet was sent about 4:30 a.m. About 20 minutes later, a crash on eastbound Interstate 94 at Chalmers forced that portion of the freeway to be closed until about 7:15 a.m. 

But Shaw clarified that it wasn't conditions per se that caused the crashes, but driver behavior.

Chelsea Fire Department Capt. Chris Smyth said a man died after crashing into a jackknifed semi on Interstate 94 near Chelsea about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Smyth told that the semi-truck had lost control due to slippery road conditions caused by ice and freezing rain.

"The roads were not behind the wheel," Shaw wrote. "The driver going too fast, following too close or not paying attention caused those crashes."

The National Weather Service says that overnight, high winds pushed in colder air, which froze over in some points. Roadways and unsalted sidewalks are affected. 

In addition to the crash on eastbound I-94, authorities are working to clear a crash on northbound I-75 at Warren.

Elsewhere, slippery roads were a factor in a Wednesday morning crash between two semi-trucks on Interstate 69 in St. Clair County that left aluminum shavings all over the roadway.

The crash happened at about 2 a.m. on westbound I-69 east of Braidwood in Riley Township, according to St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon. The freeway was closed from M-19 to Riley Center, but it reopened at about 9:20 a.m., officials said.

Donnellon said it appears the driver of a car-hauling semi lost control on the icy pavement and his truck went off the road to the right and then jackknifed across both lanes of traffic. A semi hauling aluminum shavings tried to avoid crashing into the car-hauler but its trailer struck the front of the first semi. The crash dumped tons of aluminum shavings onto the freeway.

The sheriff said neither driver was injured and both were cited for reckless driving.

He said the car hauler had left Brampton, Ontario, Canada and was bound for Flint while the other truck departed from London, Ontario, and was heading to Coldwater.

Reporters Mark Hicks, James David Dickson, Charlie Ramirez and the Associated Press contributed.