Police: Icy roads may have factored in fatal I-96 crash

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Detroit News file photo

Livonia — Police in Livonia are investigating a fatal, single vehicle crash Tuesday night that left a 36-year-old Ann Arbor man dead, and the early indications are that icy road conditions on Interstate 96 may have played a role.

The fatal crash took place about 8:30 p.m. on westbound I-96 at Newburgh, said Sgt. Brian Leigh of the Livonia Police Department. The driver, who police identified as Christopher Wilfong, lost control of his vehicle and hit a median wall. He was the only person in his vehicle, and the only vehicle involved in the crash, which required a portion of the freeway to be closed for hours.

Police believe that road conditions played a role in the crash, Leigh said. Drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors.

At the time of the crash, there were reports of drizzle on the freeways in Metro Detroit, which cut visibility down to just two miles, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ian Lee.

A half-hour before the crash, the National Weather Service had issued a special weather statement warning of the presence of light ice on area roadways, Lee said. About an hour after the crash, as reports of crashes on area freeways came pouring in, the weather service issued a winter weather advisory. That was canceled about five hours later, at 2:25 a.m.

Wayne County Public Services, through spokeswoman Whitney Lewis, said Wednesday afternoon that it had a salt truck in the area at 8:50 p.m., and that its operator observed wet conditions, rather than icy, in the area, while describing that portion of the freeway as "spotty."

The truck still did place salt on the eastbound portion of the freeway, which was still open.