As the day’s snow quickly froze into ice last night on many Ann Arbor roads, poor driving conditions led to multiple car accidents throughout the city.
“Basically, we had probably 20-plus accidents around the city tonight,” Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Michael Lance said.
At the intersection of Pauline Blvd. and South Main Street, a few hundred yards from the entrance to Michigan Stadium, several accidents took place involving multiple vehicles.
Around 10:30 p.m., a car traveling on South Main Street lost control, slid into the lawn of the house at 1011 South Main Street and crashed into the front porch of the house. The crash damaged the wooden flooring of the porch and shattered some wooden extensions coming up out of the porch floor.
LSA junior Joel Arnold, who lives at 1011 South Main Street, said two cars had collided in the street, and one of the cars was the one that crashed into his house’s porch.
Arnold said it took the driver of the car and the attending AAPD officer about half an hour to deal with the crash, after which the driver was able to steer the car back onto the road under its own power.
The house’s landlord, former Ann Arbor mayoral candidate and All Star Driver Education owner Tom Wall, was arranging for assessment of the damage and the necessary repairs to the front porch, Arnold said.
According to Lance, not long after the crash at 1011 South Main Street three cars driving on South Main lost control due to the icy roads, collided with each other and remained pinned together in the northbound lane of the street.
The three cars all sustained minor damage, and later on their owners were able to drive away from the scene of the accident after talking to AAPD officers attending to the accident.
Soon after the three cars collided in the northbound lane, two more cars driving in that lane lost control, collided with each other and with the already stationary three-car collision from earlier.
“Once the first cars started to slip,” Lance said, “the others had the same problem.”
Zack Hollenbaugh, whose green Saturn sedan suffered a damaged muffler and mild damage to the body of the car, said he had slowed down coming over the hill near the Pauline Blvd.-South Main Street when he saw the three-car accident, but that his car began to slide as he tried to slow down.
Once sliding, he said he was hit by a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse which incurred damage to the hood and front lights of the car when it hit Hollenbaugh’s car. Hollenbaugh said as the Mitsubishi hit him, it also pushed him into the other three-car collision.
When tow trucks arrived at the scene of the accidents later, and after Ann Arbor Police squad cars had blocked all traffic going north on South Main Street, all five cars were clustered together in the northbound lane of the street.
Hollenbaugh was able to drive his Saturn away from the scene of the accident, although the muffler was dragging on the road. However, a tow truck was needed to move the Mitsubishi.
Billy Wedemeyer, who lives in a house on South Main Street across from the Big House and who witnessed the accidents, credited a produce truck driving southbound that veered into the northbound lane to stop traffic for preventing more cars from piling into the already messy pileup near the intersection.
“That unknown trucker prevented that from being a 15 or 20 car pileup,” he said, adding that such accidents as last night’s are “a common occurrence here.”
Lance said many of the roads in Ann Arbor remained icy and dangerous to drive on long into the night because many of the city’s truck drivers had exhausted their daily hours earlier in the day plowing the snow that fell in the morning and afternoon.
“With that, there were only four or so trucks out the road,” he said.