Just before 11:55 p.m. on April 15, a Michigan State trooper was dispatched to address a driver “hauling a**” down the wrong lane of a highway. Less than two minutes later, a deadly, head-on crash occurred.
“I do believe it’s a truck,” a man calling into a 911 dispatcher said of the vehicle barreling down U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, according to records obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette. “I want to say it’s like a blue Dodge truck. I seen him come on to the on-ramp but he’s heading, he’s hauling a**, man.”
“Hi, I’m on 131 just before the Bangor exit going northbound,” another caller said. “There was a guy driving northbound in the southbound lanes. I am following him right now.
“Hi, I’m driving on 131 going southbound,” yet another 911 caller said. “I just passed the D Avenue, the rest stop and there was a SUV driving super fast going the wrong way.”
Just a couple minutes later, the driver of the truck, identified as 29-year-old Jeremy Smeltzer, had covered several miles and crashed into a Ford Mustang driven by 21-year-old Jaryd Ford, according to the Gazette.
Ford was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the newspaper, while Smeltzer died later at an area hospital. The only survivor was a passenger in Ford’s car, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
A trooper’s dashcam was running when Smeltzer zoomed past him. Though the moment of the crash was not directly captured on camera, the flash of debris flying is seen in the footage, as well as the aftermath when the cruiser turned around to face it.
Watch the incident:
“He hit a car. He just hit a car,” the trooper, who was nearby after just finishing up with another traffic stop, said after witnessing the crash.
The cars went up in flames, but the surviving passenger was removed while troopers on the scene used fire extinguishers.
“It very well could have been a triple fatality without the actions of the troopers at the scene,” Lt. Tom Draves told the Gazette.
The incident is still under investigation and it is unknown at this point just how fast Smeltzer was driving when the crash occurred.