Police and Fire Reports
By Annette Christie
Bainbridge farmer dies in agriculture accident
On November 29, 2017 at approximately 7:20 p.m., first responders were dispatched to a cut cornfield in the 9400 block of Territorial Road in Bainbridge Township. It was reported that there was a farming accident.
Upon arrival, responders were taken by fellow co-workers to the deceased body of Rafael Alonzo Zarate, 62, of Watervliet. Initial investigations appear as though Zarate was chopping the remaining corn stubble in the field with a “brush hog.” He was off the tractor and for unknown reasons reached across the power takeoff portion of the equipment resulting in his clothing being wrapped up in it. It appears as though he was pulled into the equipment where he suffered fatal injuries.
Zarate was alone at the time of the accident. He had been seen last in the early morning and it is unknown what time the accident occurred.
The Michigan State Police were assisted by Sister Lakes Fire Department and Pride Care at the scene.
Hartford woman involved in pedestrian strike
On November 29 at approximately 5:30 p.m., the Van Buren County Uniform Response Division was dispatched to the 57000 block of 48th Avenue for a car vs. pedestrian accident.
Deputies arrived on the scene and found that a female had been walking along 48th Ave. when a vehicle traveling westbound struck her causing injuries. The victim was injured and unresponsive in the roadway upon arrival. The victim was transported to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo for treatment.
Officers learned through the investigation that the victim was following a client from Beacon Specialized Living in Arlington Township, where she is employed. While the victim was walking with the client, the vehicle approached from the west and struck the victim. The driver, a 76-year-old woman from Hartford, reported that she did not see the two subjects walking until it was too late to avoid the collision. Deputies noted that it was dusk, and the roadway is not lit. Deputies do not believe that alcohol or drugs were a factor.
The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation into this accident.
Watervliet woman killed in accident
On December 1 at approximately 7:30 a.m., Michigan State Troopers were dispatched to a crash involving a van and a semi which occurred on County Road 687 at 66th Ave. in Hartford Township in Van Buren County.
A van driven by Deborah Baier, 68, of Watervliet was eastbound on 66th Ave. when she failed to stop at the stop sign at County Road 687 resulting in a collision with a semi that was southbound on County Road 687.
Baier was pronounced dead at the scene. Her two minor children, who were passengers in the van, were transported to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo by Medic 1 Ambulance. They were treated for minor injuries. The semi driver was unhurt.
The crash remains under investigation however, alcohol is not thought to be a factor. The Michigan State Police was assisted by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, Hartford Police Department, Pokagon Tribal Police, and the Hartford Fire Department.
Eyes on I-94 effort to reduce semi crashes on highway
Michigan State Police (MSP) motor carrier officers will join officers from the Indiana State Police, Illinois State Police, and Ohio State Highway Patrol in focusing their enforcement on I-94 and other major freeways in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio in a coordinated enforcement operation. Michigan’s operation is dubbed “Eyes on 94” and seeks to reduce commercial vehicle crashes along the I-94 corridor. This multi-state effort will take place from December 4-8, 2017.
During this initiative, motor carrier officers will focus on violations by commercial vehicles that are most likely to contribute to a crash, which include speeding, following too close, improper passing, distracted driving, and improper lane use.
“This enforcement effort is a great example of the commitment by the MSP, Indiana State Police, Illinois State Police, and the Ohio Highway Patrol to reach our common goal of increasing traffic safety and reducing crashes,” stated Capt. Michael Krumm, commander of the MSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. “This coordinated operation is an effort to increase awareness by means of high visibility enforcement on the I-94 corridor, which is prone to weather-related crashes this time of year that involves interstate commercial vehicle drivers.”
Multi-state commercial vehicle enforcement initiatives allow for neighboring states to align their resources to collectively focus attention on safety concerns involving interstate traffic. The MSP’s participation in these joint initiatives aims to increase the safety of those traveling on Michigan roads.
The “Eyes on 94” initiative is part of the statewide Drive Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety campaign, which is based on the national strategy on highway safety that seeks to reduce the number of traffic deaths nationwide.
“In 2016, Michigan saw an increase in fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, and operations like this help to ensure that our busiest roadways are also our safest,” added Krumm.
Sister Lakes Fire reminds residents of winter fire hazards
Sister Lakes Fire Department Chief Anthony Lozada would like to remind residents of a few things as we approach winter.
With fire season upon us, Lozada would like to remind residents to have their chimneys cleaned. While many people forget about this or think it is not important it is. The National Fire Protection Association states that most fireplace and chimney fires were caused by creosote buildup, and could be prevented by regular cleaning. Lozada recommends getting it cleaned annually.
He also warns of the dangers of burning leaves or debris outside. A recent response call took firefighters to a fire that could have ended very badly. A woman was burning leaves and doing it properly but an ember blew over to the neighbor’s house and landed by trees next to the home. While there was no damage to the home, it could have ended differently if not for the quick response by the homeowner and the department. “Make sure you leave a message when you are burning so we are aware,” Lozada said.
With winter coming and plows clearing roads and driveways, sometimes the green reflective house number signs get covered with snow. Lozada would like to remind residents to make sure the house numbers are visible so emergency responders can find the home when it is most important.
If a resident does not have the green reflective house number sign they should reach out to their fire department to buy one.