By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – A vehicle crashed through a DTE fence near Greenfield and Allen roads shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday and was stopped by a berm installed after a fiery crash 18 months ago.
Police Sgt. Robert Kennaley said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, and they are “waiting for results from the hospital.”
A witness reported on social media that the driver was speeding northeast on Allen Road, approaching Greenfield, shortly before the crash. Police officials confirmed the route of the driver.
Kennaley confirmed that the man was driving at a high rate of speed.
“Due to the road conditions, he didn’t make the turn heading into the fence,” he said. “We were able to speak with him (Thursday) and it wasn’t deliberate. Speed and slippery roads were a factor at this point.”
Kennaley said there were no skid marks because the roads were wet.
He also said that because of HIPAA laws, which limits the disclosure of medical information, police officials do not have much information on his condition, and do not know when he might be released from the hospital.
The driver, the only occupant of the dark-colored Chevrolet car, crashed into the wrought iron DTE fence where Allen Road ends at Greenfield, pushing fence sections back. Movement of the car was stopped by the heavily fortified earth berm, which was installed after a drunken driver crashed into nearby natural gas pipelines on DTE property two summers ago, causing a massive natural gas fire that burned for hours and forced local residents to evacuate.
A resident who lives on South Dearborn Street near the Melvindale Civic Arena said he watched as first responders used hydraulic rescue tools to extricate the man from the car, after which an ambulance rushed him to a local hospital.
Kennaley, who spoke briefly at the scene after the driver was evacuated, said police personnel observed no black ice at the intersection, nor did they see any tire skid marks when they responded to the accident.
He said at the time of the accident, the driver made no statement to police officers, but Kennaley said his condition was not conducive to conversation.
The intersection was blocked off for the rescue and subsequent investigation for more than an hour following the crash.
The tail lights on the car were still glowing red following the crash, and the roof of the car was ripped upward where rescue personnel used hydraulic tools to extricate the driver.
The fortifications and barriers installed by DTE more than a year ago successfully protected the natural gas lines from the crash.
A woman posted photos of the man, whom she identified as the driver in the crash, in the hospital on social media Thursday, which show him in a hospital bed with with bloody, stitched head lacerations. Above the photos, she wrote, “Don’t drink and drive. It’s not worth it.”
The woman, who said the man is her daughter’s father, said he is stable, but he has no memory of what happened. She asked on social media for any witnesses to the crash to tell her what they saw. No new witnesses had come forward publicly by Thursday night.
Kennaley said addition details would be released if and when the man is arraigned on any charges, or the active investigation is closed.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)