Police fear that a blown rear tire may have caused the horrific accident along I-94 in Lake Township Sunday afternoon that killed two people and injured five, backing up traffic on the westbound interstate for hours.
On Sunday September 10, 2017 at approximately 2:50 PM The Baroda-Lake Twp. Police Department responded to a single vehicle accident. The car had careened off of I-94 and rolled into a wooded tree area.
Seven people were in the vehicle, including the driver, and two were killed instantly in the wreck with four others being taken to Lakeland in St. Joe and a fifth requiring emergency airlift by Med-Flight to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
Baroda-Lake Township Police Chief Shawn Martin says that 38 year old Raul Leon of Elgin, Illinois was behind the wheel when the accident happened. He was taken to Lakeland along with 17 year old Osiris Leon, 15 year old Oscar Leon, and 4-year old Osmiry Leon. Meanwhile, 33 year old Alma Leon’s injuries resulted in her being airlifted to South Bend.
Dead at the scene were 32 year old Francisco Valle-Lopez and 13 year old Osvaldo Leon.
The entire family was from Elgin, Illinois with the exception of Valle-Lopez and Alma Leon were were traveling on Mexican passports from Guerrero, Mexico.
The accident resulted in the complete shutdown of westbound I-94 between milemarkers 16 and 22 for nearly three hours with traffic being rerouted onto Red Arrow Highway. Police used part of the shutdown interstate as a landing zone for Med-Flight.
Chief Martin says that alcohol and drugs do not appear to have been a factor in the accident, and investigators are looking into a blown driver’s side, rear tire as a factor in the wreck. The vehicle is a 2003 Ford Expedition XLT.
Martin says his department was assisted at the scene by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Berrien County Accident Reconstruction Team, the Bridgman City Police Department, Lake Township Fire/Rescue, Lincoln Township Fire/Rescue, the Lincoln Township Police Department, Medic-1 Ambulance and Med-Flight airlift from Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
The accident remains under investigation.