With the first real major snowstorm of the season, we had a number of traffic accidents in town this past week. We had eighteen total since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Monday morning. It may seem like a lot but that number is typical for a week. Most were rear-end type accidents due to driver distraction and nobody was seriously injured. In one accident, Officer Shaun Pomplun was dispatched to Seventh Avenue Southeast near the airport for a report of a one vehicle off the road accident. When he arrived, he found a vehicle with extensive damage wrapped around an immovable wooden pole. The driver was outside the vehicle, uninjured, picking pieces of his vehicle up off the ground.
The driver told Shaun that he had been travelling at 33 mph when he hit an icy patch in the roadway and lost control. Judging from the skid marks in the snow and the amount of damage, Shaun estimated that he was driving much faster than 33 mph. The driver had also been drinking. A tow truck was called and the man was ticketed for careless driving and driving with a revoked license.
This scenario repeated itself, only with a valid driver’s license and this time no drinking. On Sunday afternoon, Deputy Roy Procopio was patrolling on Fourth Street North when the vehicle in front of him went out of control and smashed into a utility pole. Deputy Procopio was kind enough to investigate the accident for us as the three Grand Rapids Police Officers on duty were tied up with other calls.
There were other accidents that were a bit unusual during the week. Such as the two car collision in the round-a-bout in front of the hospital on Golf Course Road. When the officer arrived only one driver was at the scene. She told the officer that the other driver was at the hospital. Sure enough, the officer found him in the hospital but not in the emergency room due to injuries. In fact he was just fine. He was in the maternity ward and had hurried to the hospital, driving a bit too fast, as his wife was soon to deliver their new baby.
Then there was the woman who was driving down Pokegama Avenue, lost control on the icy roadway in front of AmericInn and ended up in the stormwater retention pond on the east side of the road. Water was up to the dashboard and the fire department had to respond to remove her from the vehicle. Other than a bit cold, she was fine.
As most of us were spending at least part of the week with family and friends, contemplating what we have to be thankful for and fretting just a bit about the weather, there were others that were far from a festive mood. For example, on Wednesday evening officers were called to a residence in which a former boyfriend was outside the door demanding to be let into the house through the locked door and screaming that he had a gun. Officers arrived within minutes only to learn that the man had left in a vehicle. A description was quickly aired over the police radio and Sergeant Jeff Carlson spotted the vehicle driving down Canal Street. He stopped the vehicle. The pistol was found tucked under the front seat. The man went to jail.
Over the course of the week, officers responded to seven calls to check on the welfare of people. This is a bit lower than the typical number of these types of calls for the week. In two of these, friends and family contacted the police stating that they were concerned because they were unable to get through to their friend or family member by telephone. In each case, when officers arrived at the home, nobody answered the door. Officers were able to make entry in to the homes and in each case found the homeowner deceased due to natural causes.
For several weeks, the Grand Rapids Public Works Department has been preparing for the first major snowfall of the year. They were ready. I do take my hat off to Retired Public Works Director Jeff Davies. You see each fall Jeff would predict when the first major snowfall of the year would arrive. A few weeks ago, he predicted Monday, December 2nd. Actually, it arrived on Saturday Nov. 30. Not bad. Maybe Jeff can have a second career as a meteorologist. The accuracy of his predictions each year is uncanny. So, with the passing of Thanksgiving we settle into winter in the Northland.